Walking on Sunshine

Wirral Hospice St John’s will be the home of The North West Tonight Sunshine Garden, in memory of BBC weather presenter Dianne Oxberry.

Dianne Oxberry

Wirral Hospice St John’s was delighted to receive the wonderful news that it has been chosen to become the permanent home of the North West Tonight Sunshine Garden, in memory of Dianne Oxberry, following its showcase at this year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.

The garden, designed by renowned ‘Garden Ninja’, Lee Burkhill, has been created to reflect Dianne’s optimism, sunshine and enthusiasm, in an uplifting, bright and open-hearted garden.

Regional news programme BBC TV’s North West Tonight had, some weeks ago, asked local health organisations, particularly those who care and support people with cancer (and other life limiting conditions), to bid to host the garden in memory of Dianne.

At the time of Dianne’s passing she was the subject of fond reminiscence for many, many, people. She was part of all of our lives. When the opportunity was announced, Julia Evans, the hospice’s Fundraising Development Manager, wasted no time in speaking to people around the hospice, nurses, volunteers, staff and supporters and the unanimous response was “we must take part, it would be brilliant.”

The bid document outlined just how much a welcoming, colourful and fragrant garden is a welcome tonic for hospice patients when they spend time outdoors taking in the fresh air. The North West Tonight Sunshine Gardenwill add so much to their wellbeing.

When the call came that Wirral Hospice St John’s had been selected there was an outpouring of joy around the whole hospice. It’s a massive honour for the hospice and a completely fitting tribute to Dianne.

The RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, between 17th and 21st July, will attract thousands of visitors from around the UK and Dianne’s garden will undoubtedly stir great interest and many heartfelt memories. As soon as the show is finished the garden’s fixtures, plants, flowers and other adornments will be taken down and transported to be sited at the hospice to be in place soon after.

Part of the vision of designer, Lee Burkhill, with Dianne’s family and friends, is that The North West Tonight Sunshine Garden will evolve so that new input and experimentation will come from patients and their families.

This chimes perfectly with the transformational work that has been going on, coincidentally, at Wirral Hospice St John’s as it embarked on its own Garden Makeover for an ‘Open Garden’ event at the hospice, part of the National Garden Scheme, on the weekend of 29th and 30th June.

Huge progress has been made thanks to the enormous generosity of the whole Wirral community who have made donations of money, plants and hours upon hours, of their time to help over the last few months.

The addition of The North West Tonight Sunshine Garden, in memory of Dianne, which will follow a month later has given everyone associated with the hospice a giant boost.

Helen Parkinson, Clinical Services Manager, who has overseen Wirral Hospice St John’s garden makeover, said:

“Winning the North West Tonight Sunshine Gardenis an incredible extra reward for our army of volunteers, including patients, who have been involved in the makeover of our hospice gardens this year. From August, Dianne’s garden will be a year round reminder of her zest for life and cheerfulness. It will be a massive boost for our patients, their families, friends and any other visitors who would like to view the gardens, in memory of Dianne, at any time. We are so delighted.”

Annabel Tiffin for North West Tonight presenter added:

“It was such a difficult job deciding who should win the Sunshine Garden, every single nomination deserved it.  But in the end we all agreed that Wirral Hospice St John’s just shone through as a worthy winner. Their love of gardening, and determination to create a special place for everyone at the hospice hopefully means the Sunshine garden will continue to grow and bring pleasure to people for years to come, which I’m sure, is exactly what Dianne would have wanted.”