Stars Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton open new ‘Let’s Explore’ Sensory Garden for seriously ill children

Published: September 16, 2019

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton with Richard House Head of Fundraising Clare Roche, Chief Executive Chris Baker and Richard House Founder and Life President, Anthea Hare.

Film stars Jim Carter and Actress Imelda Staunton joined 80 guests at Richard House Children’s Hospice, Beckton, announcing the opening of the hospice’s new, ‘Let’s Explore’, Sensory Garden. The 2.7 acres of gardens has been transformed, thanks to the support of garden charity, Greenfingers, Capsicum Re, along with designers Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer including, the team at King Landscapes. The garden enables seriously ill children and their families to explore nature in a safe environment.

The nest surrounded by plants, gifted from the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show.

Actress Imelda Staunton OBE and Richard House Patron said:

“The garden clearly offers respite in it’s design, you can lose yourself in amongst the trees, my favourite features of the woodland. It is a space for the whole family in which siblings can also enjoy exploring whilst parents and carers can have some much needed me time.”

Richard House Children’s Hospice Chief Executive Chris Baker said:

“The new garden is simply wonderful. We couldn’t provide such a magical space without the continued support and generosity of incredible Richard House friends. We are delighted to provide a sanctuary where our children and families can create lasting memories. They can explore nature in such an uplifting space in which the variety of sensory elements offer life-limited children a connection to the world around them. The Richard House family are forever grateful for the transformation of our woodlands, it means the world to us all.”

The ‘waterfall’, adding sensory elements of sound.

Elements of the garden were gifted from Kate Gould’s award winning garden at the Royal Horticultural Society’s 2019 Chelsea Flower Show. Founder and Life President of Richard House, Anthea Hare said:

“The sensory elements of the garden are vital. However severe a child’s cognitive disability, every child responds to a voice, touch, a smell, to some sort of stimulus.”

The rustling of the leaves, the lulling of Kate Gould’s swinging apple chair and the variety of features are vital to the children’s interaction and development. Children with complex conditions would not normally have access to these everyday experiences.

View from the apple chair, gifted from the Chelsea Flower Show 2019.

Downton Abbey star Jim Carter and Richard House Patron said:

“The scale of the garden is incredible and you can tell it is designed with children in mind. Siblings are able to run through the garden exploring and, it is wheelchair friendly which is even better. The signposts mapping out the ‘mountains’ and ‘waterfall’, make it all the more magical. My wife and I have a child and I can only imagine how much harder it would be for families with life-limited children.”

Friends of Richard House made the opening of the new garden even more special thanks to their generosity, including Holt Energy Advisors, hotel chain Double Tree and Aspers Casino marking the opening complete with delicious drinks and canapés.

Guests enjoying the beautiful surroundings as the garden is announced ‘officially open’.

Bea Stevens, General Manger at Aspers Westfield Stratford City said:

“Aspers Stratford Casino, is delighted to support Richard House and the invaluable work they do in the local community in Newham. Whether it is through donations or supporting their teams in various ways, we are proud to be associated to a Good Causes Fund where our donations make such a difference.”

Photos: Hope Lanek and Paul Webb