1. Tell us a bit about Greenfingers Charity?
Greenfingers is a national charity dedicated to creating magical and inspiring gardens for life-limited children, and their families who spend time in hospices across the UK. The charity was established in 1999 and since then has created over 50 gardens. With a waiting list of hospices that still need our help, we hope that a further three Greenfingers gardens will become a reality in 2018.
As a gardening charity, we have and continue to be supported in the main by the garden industry. The partnership with Kew Green Hotels has been a fantastic boost to our work and will ensure we’re able to give the precious gift of a garden to even more children and families in hospices.
2. How long does one garden project take and what is involved?
Our strategic aim is to create three gardens in children’s hospice each year. From the time an application is received from a hospice, to the actual garden build it can seem like a fairly lengthy process.
We firstly need to ensure we have all the funds in place before we start each project. We work with our Garden Committee to identify garden designers and landscapers who will carry out the build. As we strive to ensure each garden is the best it can be for the hospice, its children and families as well as for the wider hospice community, we go through a consultation process to ensure the garden design works for all. There’s also the essential admin to ensure contracts and appropriate insurance documentation is in place.
The whole process, including the garden build, providing the hospice with a twelve-month garden maintenance plan as well as the grand opening of the garden, can in reality take about a year.
3. Why do you think working with Kew Green Hotels has been so successful?
From the very first conversation with Neil, it was apparent that there was real passion from within the Senior Leadership Team at Kew Green Hotels to make a real difference to the communities in which the hotels operate. With the support of all those at the top, we certainly felt it was a partnership that had all the qualities of being an outstanding one, right from the beginning.
Neil and the team are doing a great job engaging staff with the partnership and that charity messages are consistent.
The Facebook and JustGiving pages have also been great platforms to create an element of friendly competition between the hotel teams but also great places to share and be proud of their amazing FUNdraising activities. It also means that we at Greenfingers Charity are able to see every day just what the hotel staff are doing and so we can and do say thank you to ensure everyone knows their efforts are very much appreciated!
I think it also helps that we are a very small charity and so staff know us by name and are able to speak to us should they need our help, but more importantly they can see the real difference their fundraising and volunteering in the gardens make to children and families who spend time in hospices.
We have certainly learned a lot from the partnership and have made some great new friends right across the country at the same time.
4. How important is fundraising and sponsorship for Greenfingers Charity?
As Greenfingers Charity relies solely on the generosity of all those who provide support in so many different ways it’s vitally important. Whether it’s fundraising, donating time or gifts in kind, or as Kew Green Hotels are doing so brilliantly, raising awareness of the work of the charity, every penny raised or funds saved really does make a difference.
5. There have been so many fantastic Kew Green / Greenfingers Charity events in the last twelve months including Helen Barkers incredible 53 race challenge and daredevil Kenny Bruce Russell’s 233m bungee jump! What have been some of your 2017 highlights?
That’s a really tricky one, there have been so many highlights! Helen has been amazing, finding time to train as well as take part in so many challenges has been incredible. Seeing Neil and the team get involved in Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day and crossing the finish line was great too. And then there’s been the golf days, the Greenfingers teddy bears, trolley coins, cake and book sales, Pimms Party, Christmas parties and so much more besides. The Art Exhibition which saw some great artwork by Donna Morgan was inspiring, Kenny’s bungee jump in Hong Kong was scary, the Kilt Walk inspiring, the cycle and walking challenges pushed the limits, Go Green for Greenfingers saw some great fun images and of course the support from IHG Foundation has brought us has been an added bonus. It’s been such an exciting year and a fabulous journey which we’ve been delighted to be a part of.
6. You’re currently working on your 54th garden which is a fantastic achievement, what are your ambitions for 2018?
Our 54th garden at Andys at St Andrews Hospice should be completed shortly and I have to say I’m really looking forward to seeing children enjoying this Pirate themed garden in the spring. We’re also going to see the new Nest and Rest garden at Grace House in Sunderland, which Paul and the team at Holiday Inn Washington have supported, become a reality early next year. This will be closely followed by a new garden at Acorns Children’s Hospice in Walsall which is being designed by the RHS’s James Alexander-Sinclair. We have more hospice gardens on our waiting list and so we have more hospice visits and planning to do to ensure we are able to support all those hospices who need our help over the next few years.
We’re also planning for our 20th Anniversary which is in 2019, we have some very exciting plans to celebrate this including, we hope, a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show which is being sponsored by a private donor.
7. What is Garden Re-leaf 2018 and what can people do to get involved?
Garden Re-Leaf Day is our national fundraising campaign which will see garden centres, suppliers and many others doing all sorts of FUNdraising activities on 16th March. There’s a sponsored 10 or 20 mile walk and a 50 or 100 mile cycle challenge which we’d love to see more Kew Green Hotel staff and customers get involved in next year.
8. All of our hotels are unique, and the teams have thoroughly enjoyed coming up with new and exciting ways to FUNdraise. What are some of the ways everyone out there can join in and raise vital sponsorship for Greenfingers Charity next year?
There are lots of different ways to get involved next year. Whether it’s making a donation in a collection box or donation envelope, taking part in Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day, opening your garden, holding a garden party for friends and family or organising a Go Green for Greenfingers event at school or work, there really is something for everyone. However you choose to support Greenfingers Charity, every single penny raised will make a real difference.
To find out more about the amazing work Greenfingers do, please visit their website for news, events and more.