Work is well underway for UHSussex’s first commemorative garden for veteran patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or physical injury at Southlands Hospital.
The garden will offer a peaceful environment for remembrance and reflection, as well as a place to provide nature-based therapy for veterans.
Armed Forces Champion, Coco Highton, is the lead for this garden project, who this year climbed the Three Peaks and cycled an incredible 524 miles from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to Buckingham Palace last year to help raise funds for the garden.
Coco said: “This commemorative garden is a significant and exciting addition to our Trust’s service provision. We will be holding events there for veterans throughout the year, as well as opening the gates to all staff and patients to enjoy.
“Not only can veteran patients come here for solo contemplation, but they can regroup during commemorative events and meet other patients with specific issues relating to service personnel. We then as a Trust can signpost these veterans along referral pathways to support their needs. As a proud cohort of patients who rarely ask for help, this garden can only be of benefit to them and will serve as a platform to make them aware of the wide range of support there is for them.”
At UHSussex, we’re proud to have been recognised nationally for our commitment to the armed forces community and achieving Veteran Aware status.
We have pledged to ensure that members of the armed forces community are never disadvantaged when receiving care.
This garden is an addition to other support, including our Chavasse Clinic, a specialist musculoskeletal clinic for service personnel and veterans and helping veterans to access PTSD therapy, help with homelessness and the justice system and mental health support.
Located at the back of Southlands Hospital, the garden has been designed with veterans in mind, including wheelchair friendly access, vibrant plants so they can experience new colours, textures, and fragrances to stimulate their senses and a bandstand area to accommodate a military band and for raising a flag.
The garden will also be fully accessible to patients and colleagues who will be able to enjoy this serene space all year round.
The planting stage in the garden, designed by award-winning landscape designer Juliet Sargeant, was completed in early November. Soon benches and steel fencing will arrive and the foundation for the bandstand area will be laid.
Although recent storms have affected scheduling, the team have ploughed on, and the garden is expected to be completed by the end of the year – weather permitting – with an official opening planned for March 2024.
A Regimental Dinner fundraiser at the Hove Club on Saturday February 24, 2024, has also been organised to raise funds for the maintenance of the commemorative garden. This glitzy, black-tie event will be hosted by Lt Col Ben Caesar, our armed forces lead and Orthopaedic Surgeon who runs the Chavasse Clinic and will include a three-course fine dining meal, a raffle, and an auction.
To find out more about the fundraiser and to book you tickets, see this flyer and for more information about our Armed Forces Community, visit our website.