We have volunteered our running legs to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 13th October, to raise money for a very worthy cause; to create a Healing Garden at Harefield Hospital, the UK's largest specialist heart and lung centre, for patients, their visitors and staff.

Catherine is working alongside a lady called Rosie Pope and, as relatives of former patients at the hospital, are fundraising and creating the healing garden; a place which will offer vital breathing space away from the constant sensory bombardment of the hospital environment to help patients recover physically and psychologically more quickly, as well as alleviating stress and promoting wellbeing, for patients, their visitors, and for staff.

Catherine has personal experience of Harefield: "My dad was airlifted there after suffering a sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest, whilst on his regular morning run in in 2017. Dad spent 12 days at Harefield, for most of which he was in an induced coma and on life support, but against the odds he woke up! He asked for a cup of tea and a sandwich and we were able to tell him what had happened to him and all the things you don't usually think to say when life is going well. Sadly, a day later, Dad suffered another cardiac arrest and this time he left us. I'm certain that Dad would be all for the creation of the Healing Garden, but I know he would absolutely hate it to be in any way about him, so I'll keep his story low key, because it's not really about him at all. It's because of what mum and I went through with him, that really opened my eyes to the incredible job health professionals do every day (and night!) so relentlessly, and it made me want to give something back. I know that Mum and I would have benefitted from having access to such a calm and therapeutic space, had there been one back then; as would the staff, who were also visibly affected by the loss of their patient. These are my reasons for volunteering to create the Healing Garden; a garden that can help heal people, in many different ways, for decades and even generations to come."

The garden design incorporates tall planting for privacy, secluded seating with firm arms and supportive backs and smooth paths for unsteady feet, wide enough to turn a wheelchair or for a hospital bed. Stepping stones through lawn areas will help patients’ rehabilitation and provide an element of play for young visitors. Sensory plants will be important, with swathes of mixed ornamental grasses and flowering perennials providing movement. Sweeping beds of bulbs in long grass will complement planted borders, softening the garden.

We plan to break ground on the first phase of the garden this November, but we still have a further £150,000 to raise in order to complete the planting next Spring. Some of this will come from charitable grants; however, every penny in every pound will help us on our way, so we do hope that you feel able to sponsor us for our half marathon challenge - and believe me, it will be a challenge - our bodies have gone from holiday mode to training mode over the last few weeks and we are all really feeling it!

Please take a look at the website for more info: www.harefieldhealinggarden.co.uk

Thank you for reading!

Catherine, Louise & Katy x Catherine Perry