A brand-new, ’secret garden’ at the Northern General Hospital is being declared ‘officially open’ with a celebration tea party next week, Wednesday 5 July, providing a much-needed sanctuary for hardworking and often over-stretched hospital workers.

The garden, designed by Tom Beaumont at Weddle Landscape Designs, is the realisation of a two-year long £370,000 project by Sheffield Hospitals Charity to provide a peaceful space, filled with wildflowers, seated areas and greenery, where hospital staff can spend their breaks during what can often be physically and emotionally testing hospital shifts.

The project was launched in 2021, in reflection of the huge dedication of hospital staff and the extra strain on their wellbeing following the COVID-19 pandemic. The garden project was created to ensure that staff felt valued and supported, and were given the safe, quiet, relaxing space to help busy workdays feel a little easier.

Appreciative patients and staff donated to transform a piece of hospital-owned wasteland into a natural haven. Supporters raised money in a variety of ways – from sponsored hikes and cycle rides, to golf days and fundraising parties in their own gardens. Other supporters included relatives who donated in memory of loved ones, for whom the garden will be a lasting legacy.

Beth Crackles, Chief Executive of Sheffield Hospitals Charity said:

“NHS staff work tirelessly to do their very best by their patients, and the pandemic pushed people to their absolute limits. Through the garden, we hope hospital staff will not only feel appreciated, but able to find peace and recharge, no matter what challenges they’re facing on the busy wards.

“At Sheffield Hospitals Charity we are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff – knowing that it’s not just a ‘nice to have’ but an essential part of having a workforce that performs life-saving roles every day for the people of Sheffield.”

Rhian Bishop, Staff Engagement and Wellbeing Lead at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"The Secret Garden will make a huge difference to both our patients and staff and will be an excellent addition to our on-going health and wellbeing support. Being outside and connecting with nature is known to be incredibly important for our wellbeing and so we hope that the garden will provide staff with an outdoor sanctuary to spend a period of calm, appreciate nature and enjoy a moment of respite during busy shifts.”

Tom Beaumont, the garden’s designer said:
"It was a fantastic honour for Weddles to be invited to design the Secret Garden Project for Sheffield Hospitals Charity at Northern General Hospital. It’s been a rewarding experience being part of a team that has created a garden that will be enjoyed by staff and patients alike.

The garden has been designed to provide a series of tranquil outdoor spaces away from busy hospital life and provide opportunities for people to get outside to enjoy tranquil moments within green spaces. Hopefully the garden will become a valued resource for the hospital, helping to provide a calming experience for those who need it."