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The root of all happiness - Weednesday GoodGym

22 GoodGymers made their way to help the Warneford Hospital in Oxford.

  • Justin Wetters
  • Stu Belcher
  • Anwen Greenaway
  • Lorenzo
  • Rachael H
  • Bethan Greenaway
  • Sarah
  • Vicky Arnold
  • Holly
  • Ben Foster
  • Amy Holguin
  • Jessy McCabe
  • David
  • Georgia Mason
  • Venetia Lipscombe
  • Amy Woolloff
  • Laura Brown
  • Sophie Wilkinson
  • Hattie Elvins
  • Matty Holder
  • Meysam
  • Lasha
Wednesday, 16th of June 2021
Led by Anwen Greenaway

We're becoming regulars at the Warneford Hospital, with monthly visits to the Highfield Unit. The Highfield Unit is the young person's mental health in-patient unit. It has a huge garden, which is lovely, but tricky to keep under control with limited gardening staff.

Since our last visit at the beginning of May the whole garden has undergone a growth spurt, and so we came prepared to do serious battle with brambles, weeds, and unruly shrubbery.

We split our team of 22 between 3 garden sections to work on the public area at the front of the unit, the area outside the dining room, and the furthest garden space (which we haven't worked on quite so much on previous visits). Loppers, secatueurs and wheel barrows were in high demand as we pruned, weeded, and detangled huge amounts of brambles, creating mountains of cuttings to be wheeled and dragged round the corner to the compost pile. In a few areas the windows of the young people's rooms were starting to get blocked by brambles and shrubs, so we particularly focused on trying to clear those so that they can look out onto the garden again and not have the daylight blocked out. Jessy and Hattie did an amazing job to clear the brambley corner which we've been meaning to get to on every visit, unearthing a lovely rosemary bush under all the thorns, and Matty proved to be the master of bramble root removal (all the practice at Marston Forest Garden at the weekend paying off). Out front the team unearthed a memorial plaque which had been hidden by the undergrowth, tamed the shrubs, and (less excitingly) removed the inevitable litter and discarded clothing tucked away amongst the plants. No pants found, which is a relief, but Vicky's homing instinct for clothing unearthed a Tshirt which has seen much better days.

It's easy to lose track of time when there's lots to do, particularly on a lovely summer evening with a hot air balloon floating overhead and plenty of chatter (dinner recipe top tips, and some quite philosophical analysis of walking going on). It turns out that bramble removal is worse than litter picking for needing to grab JUST ONE MORE before packing up! Still, over-running when it's a summery joy to be outside isn't a chore.

We'll be back at the Highfield Unit again before too long, as there's plenty of regular work needed in such a large garden. It can't be easy to have your child as an in-patient in any hospital, but knowing that they're in a pleasant environment hopefully goes some way towards making it a less traumatic experience.

We were very happy to have a GoodGymer-onTour from Newham tonight - good to meet you Justin.

Welcome Lasha - hope you enjoyed your first GoodGym experience.

Report written by Anwen Greenaway

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Anwen Greenaway
Led by Anwen Greenaway

Goodgym Coordinator for Oxford. Trail runner, often muddy.

GoodGymers helping out
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    • Vicky Arnold
    • Bethan Greenaway

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