Our amazing volunteer gardener wins national awards

Published: November 28, 2018

Last night it was announced that the Hospice UK Volunteer Gardener of the Year 2018 Award was won by Derek James, who has long been a volunteer gardener at East London’s Richard House Children’s Hospice. The Hospice UK Awards celebrate the innovative work and people in hospices and palliative care organisations across the UK.

Derek, 75, from Newham, is a retired school teacher and he has an affinity with the children and his understanding is reflected in his landscaping. From the moment you enter the outside is full of colour and interest all year around. But, from a place for children to enjoy fresh air to place for them to explore wildlife, such as foxes, squirrels, and a variety of birds, the garden he created has elements for everyone.

Trish McInery, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Richard House said: “Having a garden area that is accessible, peaceful and fun is not an easy task especially in the heart of London, but Derek has achieved this year on year. Derek is here rain, snow or sun and his compassion for the children and families joins ideally with his passion for gardening. A beehive, a wild woods walk, a memory garden, a beach with boat…. The difference Derek has made to the garden is immense.

“Derek is a volunteer that deserves this award as recognition of all the commitment and passion he has given and as a real thank you from all the life-limited children and their families whose lives he has affected over the years.”

Derek was delighted to win the award and said: “I was surprised but flattered to receive this. It is inspirational to see the upbeat and happy atmosphere at Richard House and seeing people just getting on with their lives in spite of their difficulties. I am a fan of fresh air and love to see an open space being used for such a good cause.”

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said: “Our awards celebrate the amazing people and innovative projects that have made such a big difference to the support provided by hospice and palliative care providers to people with life-limiting conditions.

Richard House relies on volunteers and donations to continue to deliver clinical care, therapeutic and residential services to life-limited children and young adults, while supporting their families through therapy and bereavement support.