The Volunteer Gardener of the Year Award is given in recognition of the outstanding contribution made by an individual to a hospice or palliative care organisation's gardens.
The winner has been announced at the Hospice UK National Conference.
Winner - 2023
Graham Stone, Thames Hospice
Hospice gardens across the country are places of reflection and bring joy to staff and visitors alike.
Graham has gone beyond his gardening role, playing an important part in the hospice’s outpatient services, facilitating therapeutic gardening activities for patients and offering companionship.
Graham also works with the local community holding workshops with schools who visit the hospice to participate in gardening activities and learn about hospice and palliative care. And as a regular speaker about the work of the hospice and its gardens, Graham helps to raise awareness and secure financial donations.
The Awards Panel agreed Graham’s commitment and impact are outstanding: “We are incredibly grateful that are people like Graham to provide comfort, compassion, and knowledge to people receiving hospice care and their loved ones. The connection between the volunteer gardeners and the therapeutic impact that they have on patients and families is deep and powerful. Well done Graham.”
What the judges were looking for
- Why the person is being nominated?
- How many years have they been volunteering?
- What is the impact of their commitment?
- What did they do exactly?
Find out more about previous winners of the Volunteer Gardener of the Year Award.
Winner - 2022
Pilgrims Hospice, Thanet: Arthur Walkiden (Posthumous)
Arthur was a part of Pilgrims Hospice from its opening 30 years ago and showed incredible commitment and dedication to creating and shaping a garden that is a haven for patients and their loved ones as well as staff and volunteers.
For many years he was Chair of the Hospice Volunteer Gardening Club and his influence and knowledge can now be seen in established flower beds and the rose garden. He shared his knowledge and enthusiasm with volunteers young and old in local gardening societies, his passion not restricted just to the Pilgrims Hospice gardens. He would also attend hospice and community social events, always immaculately dressed and he featured in the community newsletter – even Monty Don learned from him!
He was a true ambassador for both garden volunteers and volunteering in general and well-liked and respected by his fellow volunteers and staff at Pilgrims Hospice.
Judges commented, “we feel Arthur is deserving of the Volunteer Gardener of the Year Award in recognition of the significant difference he made to the development and care of the hospice garden over 30 years. He demonstrated strong values and commitment, shared knowledge and passion, inspired and encouraged others”.
Collecting the award on Arthur's behalf was Karen Warden.
Winner - 2021
Janet Walker’s commitment to the hospice garden at St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds, is amazing.
Having volunteered for over 15 years, Janet is a much valued member of the team, helping to lead volunteers and is instrumental in the annual Open Gardens event.
The Open Gardens event which had to be held virtually in 2020 was a success, with a large part of that due to Janet, who filmed a virtual tour of her own garden, with gardening tips to support the event.
In the height of lockdown, Janet continued to look after the hospice gardens with her own tools. Janet’s compassion extends beyond the gardens and can often be seen chatting to patients, families and making cups of teas if needed.