This week, a previously unloved grassy area outside Abbey Ward is undergoing a transformation to become a ‘Peace and Tranquillity Garden’, intended to be enjoyed by patients, staff and visitors. The groundwork had to be delayed from Easter, due to the pandemic.

Tom Cox, Oxford Health’s Artscape Manager, along with volunteers from the Chiltern Rangers, battled Storm Francis on the first day, to start the work.

“Everything is running to plan, despite a small incident on the first day when our gazebo blew away!” he said.

Ranger volunteer, Suzie Cullen came along with her entire family from Beaconsfield. Suzie and her daughter Clemmie, 11, have been busy painting pebbledash walls and birdboxes. Her husband Gavin and son Jasper, 14, have been making tables, laying bark chips and creating a pollinator patch.

She said: “We really wanted to do something together as a family before term starts again and to support the NHS.”

Paul Stack, Chiltern Rangers Community Project Manager said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve had volunteers arrive to help which has really doubled our workforce!

“It’s also great to see multi-generations coming together to create beautiful areas for patients and visitors to enjoy whilst also transforming the area for wildlife.

“We’re just installing bird boxes for swifts and house sparrow terraces. All the wood and furniture has been upcycled as we try to be as sustainable as possible.

“It’s lovely to be able to give the NHS a boost!” He added.

Mandy Mckendry, modern matron for urgent care across Oxfordshire who secured the funding from Oxford Health Charity for the project, has been running backwards and forwards feeding the busy workers with tea and biscuits!

“It’s really exciting! I can see that the garden is taking shape and I’m looking forward to it being used by our staff and patients. It’s going to be a lovely area,” said Mandy.

The project is due to complete on Tuesday after the Bank Holiday, with a ‘Planting Day’ that will be attended by Ben Riley, managing director of Community Services.