Dedicated volunteers have spoken of their shared passion and commitment when it comes to maintaining the garden at a leading children’s hospice. Val White, Andrew John, Richard Hill and Karen Nunn give their time to help tend to the grounds at The Nook, in Framingham Earl.
They are part of a hard-working team that supports the facilities team at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). All four are tireless helpers who play a key role in ensuring the outside space provides an eye-catching, peaceful environment for families.
Val, who is in her early 60s and lives in Rockland St Mary, started volunteering as a gardener in 2018. The charity’s Norfolk base was still at Quidenham, before The Nook was officially opened by The Princess of Wales in November 2019.
“As a family, we’ve supported EACH for several years,” she said. “Then, following a family bereavement, I decided to apply to be a volunteer. I chose gardening because I enjoy being outside and it’s something very different, following a career in the NHS. I’m by no means an expert but it’s been lovely meeting other gardening volunteers from varying career backgrounds.
“When I started, I was the only one but now we’ve become a team. My favourite part of the garden is the top end, beyond the car park, where there’s a gazebo and flower beds. It was donated from the Sandringham Flower Show and I helped a team from Aviva dig the beds and create the area. It’s a peaceful place.”
Val had the opportunity to meet The Princess during a private visit in July 2020.
Retired teacher Andrew, 60 and from Cringleford, is similarly passionate about EACH and has been volunteering for 18 months. “EACH is such a fantastic charity to support and The Nook has such beautiful grounds,” he said. “I look forward to seeing everyone and have enjoyed becoming part of a team with common interests and a core purpose to provide the very best outside environment for families to feel relaxed in. I like all aspects of gardening, even cutting the brambles back from the trees they’re invading, but my favourite parts would be the flowerbeds, especially in the spring when the tulips are out.”
Richard is a valued member of the facilities team and helps in various ways, supporting the gardening team from Spring to Autumn.
“It’s mainly grass-cutting, strimming and generally keeping the grounds tidy but I’m happy to do whatever’s asked of me,” he said. “I enjoy whizzing around on the sit-on lawnmower and it’s great to see the grass looking neat. I do one day a week and that’s not enough to get all the grass cut, so it’s almost a two-week rolling scope of work. I’ve also helped the caretakers with things like assembling beds, jet-washing the bicycle shelter and carrying out checks on the pool cars. I don’t mind what I do but like being part of the team and feel fortunate to have met such a nice group of people.”
Richard, from Poringland, describes volunteering as good for his soul. “I know that sounds a bit dramatic but it’s the truth,” he said. “It’s good to do something for others. All my working life, I worked for money and it’s nice to give something back. When I retired, I always thought I’d do some kind of volunteer work and I like to achieve something every week. To look at what I’ve done, especially the approach up the driveway when it’s looking nice and neat, leaves me with a certain amount of pride.”
Karen, from Wreningham, has been volunteering for three years and her first few shifts were spent helping plant as many spring bulbs as possible from around 15,000 donated by Notcutts. I’ve always been interested in gardening and wanted to give some of my spare time for the benefit of the community once I left full-time employment,” she said. “Becoming a garden volunteer was a perfect match and also gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and make new friends. Tasks I enjoy most are planting up the patio containers for the summer.
“The view across the grounds and to the landscape beyond is amazing. The tulips look lovely, especially combined with the ornamental grasses which have long flower spikes and sway in the breeze.”
Other gardening volunteers who also lend their time and play a key role include Andrew Levesley, Tricia Black, Jenny Orton and Sarah Scotter.
There are various ways to support the charity by volunteering, with something to suit individual skills and interests.
To find out more about any of the opportunities available, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact volunteer services on 01223 205183.
Notes to Editors
“We’d heard about EACH and knew they were a fantastic cause that had supported families we knew, but we never thought we’d be the ones that needed them! Sadly, as fantastic as it is, their service will always be required, and every child who needs their help deserves to have it.”
- We care for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and support their families.
- We offer families flexibility and control over where they receive their care and support, including where their child dies – at home, in hospital or at one of three hospices at Milton (Cambridge), The Nook (Norfolk) and The Treehouse (Ipswich).