BCMS volunteer day: Newbury Cancer Care

Liz Thomas writes: Back in 2019, we launched The BCMS Volunteer Day, an opportunity to get involved in supporting the community and assisting with charity groups that we hold close to our hearts.

I had the pleasure of organising a Volunteer Day in the therapy garden at West Berkshire Community Hospital in aid of Newbury Cancer Care. Newbury Cancer Care is a charity that helps local people who have been diagnosed with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. They offer practical help and information to patients and their families living in West Berkshire. It is a charity dear to me as they supported my family hugely when my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour several years ago and their Rainbow Room gave us precious time to visit him in his final days.

The impact of Covid – and a chance to return

Sadly, during the past few years, the Covid pandemic understandably restricted our ability to participate in our volunteering days. So now that restrictions have eased, I was delighted to arrange another one in August 2022. It was a sizzling hot day and five of us here at BCMS donned our gardening gloves for a day’s volunteer work in the therapy garden. I noticed how much it had developed since we were last there in 2019, with the addition of a new forest area planted last November – this is a dense, native woodland that helps mitigate the effects of climate change, supports urban wildlife and reconnects people with nature. There are also additional seating areas with colourful flowering plant containers and the restoration of the area around the Rainbow Rooms.

“Thank you BCMS for such a wonderful day, and for your dedication and kindness” – Christine Stockwell, West Berkshire Community Hospital.

We were tasked with weeding this beautifully named ‘Tiny Forest’. Little it may be, but it was no mean feat as it was covered in rather savage large thistles. We also constructed a new duo garden seat, moving planters and dead-heading shrubs. It was nice to see how many patients, relatives and staff made use of the garden whilst we were there, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of the flowers, plants, trees, grasses and sculptures.

I’m very pleased to say that we’ve been invited back for another session, so I’m looking forward to arranging another one later in the year.

We’re business advisors, not gardeners, but Christine Stockwell, my contact at West Berkshire Community Hospital who helped me organise the session, seemed appreciative: “Lovely to see you again today, and a huge thank you to you all for the fantastic work you did for us at the hospital. The main jobs from the list were completed so it’s great! I know it was horrendously hot to be working in the garden, so well done. If you would like to come again at the end of the gardening season, please let me know. On behalf of us all here on the wards, both staff and patients, thank you all again for such a wonderful day, your dedication and kindness.”

We’ll definitely be back – both at West Berkshire Community Hospital and at other projects around the Thames Valley area and beyond for future Volunteer Days. As a company, our values revolve around going above and beyond and giving more, whether that’s for our clients, our colleagues or our communities. It’s a genuine pleasure to be able to give back in this way – especially for a cause so important to me personally.

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