David Fuller and nurse picking flowers

Flower Power

David is a 90-year-old patient staying on Martlets’ inpatient unit (IPU) and was once head gardener for Sir Winston Churchill. He wanted to enjoy Martlets’ gardens one last time (before building works began on site). He picked a bunch of flowers for every inpatient – so they would each have a reminder of the gardens in their new IPU rooms at Maycroft Manor Care Home. 

David has been staying on our inpatient unit (IPU) for symptom management. He was recently transferred (along with all our inpatients) from our Hospice building at Wayfield Avenue. He is now in our new temporary home for Martlets’ IPU at Maycroft Manor Care Home.  

Since we opened our doors 25 years ago expectations of hospice care have changed. To ensure Martlets is fit for the future we need to upgrade our facilities. Martlets has temporarily closed its hospice doors at Wayfield Avenue while we build a new home to ensure the communities we serve continue to be treated with dignity and respect. Throughout this period we will continue to deliver dedicated, compassionate, hospice care at partner sites across our community as well as in people’s homes.  

“The gardens are just beautiful at Martlets,” says David. “I enjoyed them so much while I was staying there at Wayfield Avenue. I knew that the building works would soon be starting and that we were all going to be moved to a new IPU at Maycroft Manor. So many flowers were in bloom and it seemed such a shame for them to go to waste. I thought I’d pick a bunch for each patient to have in their new room at Maycroft. Then they’d have something to remember Martlets by and it would be a nice welcome to the new place. I picked whatever I fancied – there were some lovely roses in bloom.”

David Fuller picking flowers in Martlets Gardens

“I was Sir Winston Churchill’s head gardener for 10 years at Chartwell House and started there in 1950 when I was 18. He would come and chat to us and was always sitting down by the lake painting, drinking his whisky, and watching his swans.” 

Chartwell’s black swans were given to Churchill as a present in 1927, from Sir Phillip Sassoon, a well-known politician of the day who served as private secretary to Field Marshal Haig during the First World War. Churchill loved animals and was devoted to his swans and would frequently converse with them in ‘swan-talk’ in which he claimed – in jest – to be an expert). 

“I lived in a cottage at Chartwell and the gardens were magnificent,” adds David. “I’ve always enjoyed everything about gardening – looking after plants as they grow through the seasons; blooming, dying back then coming back to life after the winter. It makes such a difference to be able to get outside and to see everything living and growing.” 

“I’ve settled in at Maycroft Manor and we’re all being well-cared for here. The food has been absolutely marvellous at Martlets – the chicken dishes in particular. I’ve got a sweet tooth, so the mousse and jelly and ice cream are favourites too.” 

“It’s the same facilities as the IPU at Wayfield Avenue,” continues David, “and it’s still Martlets staff that are caring for us. I was getting terrible pain in my hip because of cancer. Martlets invited me in to stay on the ward while they got my pain under control. I’ve been here for several weeks but I’m hoping I might get back home eventually. It’s a very nice garden here at Maycroft that’s well-maintained. It’s not as lovely as the other Martlets’ garden but it’s nice to get out – the nurses push me around in a wheelchair and it’s good to get some air and see what’s growing.”

David Fuller with some of the flowers he picked

Dr Fiona Lindsay, a consultant in palliative medicine on Martlets’ IPU adds: 

“The garden at Martlets is a special place and is greatly valued by patients, families, visitors, and hospice staff. It is attentively and creatively maintained by a team of volunteers. With a diversity of plants, shrubs, and trees, it offers an environment rich to the senses: whispering grasses, delicate fragrant blooms and an array of colours and textures.  For many, this space offers comfort and calming distraction.  

We have now entered an exciting period, with the building of a new hospice on the existing site. When this is completed, all patient rooms will have direct access to the garden. This outside space will once again resume its role as an important part of Martlets.    

Thank you to all involved in the design, restoration, nurturing, and future care of the garden – it is, and will be, much appreciated.” 

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