Queen Scene

The garden of life

Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline boasts a wonderful garden which is maintained by a group of very talented and hard working volunteers.

Anne Morton is the woman whose vision it was to transform a wasted area of ground into a beautiful garden for patients, visitors and staff alike to cherish.

Here, she tells The Queendom about how exceptional woman have inspired her at different points of her life.

You are born…you live…you die. I get that.

And as a woman in my 70’s I am lucky to still be living.

It’s that bit in the middle that can either be exciting, rewarding, difficult, tragic, beautifuI and so on depending on where life takes you and what decisions you make.

Exceptional women

On the way there can be inspiring people who leave their mark on you and in my case that has often been women…old and young.

Many women have led me to be a strong and determined leader, both in my past career in the Fife Education Service and in life itself.

As is often the case my mother was the first major influence in my life by teaching her children to find their own individual skills and talents and for me in particular how to build self esteem and confidence.

No one who knows me today would believe I was a shy, nervous child.

Death is part of life

I met family death at 12 yrs old, 21 yrs old and 31 yrs old with first my Grandmother and then my mother and then my father.

Soon to follow was my younger brother. Meanwhile I gave birth to 2 beautiful daughters…and here is the next memorable woman to inspire me…the midwife at delivery.

Twilight birth, Indian baby massage and other wonderful conversations we had.

This was a major influence as I had no mother around to support me. She was a kindred spirit and gave me the birth experience I had wished for.

A human coming into this world is as challenging as one leaving and the whole experience at the beginning or the end of life can be made so comforting by the environment and people around you.

Words that stay with you

The death of my father at a hospice where there was a lovely garden was where the ward Sister told my sister and I to let our toddlers run and play and fight.  

Her words were “Life is part of death and death is part of life”.

These words have remained with me all these years and were a major influence in my decision to develop a garden for the hospice in Dunfermline many years later.

Dignity and grace until the end

 So here I was spending many hours and days in the Dunfermline Hospice ward comforting a very close friend to slip away.

She certainly taught me how to leave this world.

She had lovely scarves and wraps and beads on to the end and never complained. She had such grace and dignity in dying…another inspiring woman!

 During my time visiting the Dunfermline hospice ward and in the lounge area, whilst making myself a cuppa, I saw a grandad reading to his 2 grandchildren whose young mum was being comforted in the ward by her husband.

It was a hot, summer day and when I asked about an outdoor space with them in mind I was told by a nurse they had tried and failed to get such a provision.

She inspired me! She showed me a large L shaped piece of neglected land in the middle of the hospital grounds easily accessed by a lift from the ward.

The rest is history.

A year later we had a steering group with NHS staff and soon a committee and funds rolled in and come the October, we opened a £50,000 stunning garden with doors widened for bed and wheelchair access designed and built by a local company.

Our volunteers plant, weed, sweep up weekly. Without that nurse taking the time to speak to me at thatpoint then nothing would have developed.

Our NHS link throughout has been a woman who despite many obstacles has opened doors for us through all the red tape. She has demonstrated to us “anything is possible”.

What a strong, determined lady. We owe so much to her. She has been invaluable to our team and an inspiration.

Our team of volunteers who maintain the garden on a weekly basis have come to us mainly through personal bereavement after experiencing the wonderful support of the hospice staff.

I chair the committee and lead the garden team but there is something special within the group whereby we help each other grieve with lots of chat and a lot of humour.

The relationship between this community group and the NHS continues to go well and after installing an irrigation system and lovely evening lighting we are now working together to have 2 shelters in the garden designed and built.

Patients and families, whether their loved ones are in wheelchairs or beds, come down to their private garden space to spend outdoor time together or indeed to tie a ribbon on our memory tree to celebrate a life of someone special.

There is, of course an activity for children visiting the garden in memory of that Grandad I saw 2 years ago in the lounge area. After all…what was it that was said to me 43 years ago?


1 comment

  1. What a fantastic piece of writing Anne. You are an inspiration to many also. I am so glad we met and had our conversation. it led to such an amazing creation
    Happy memories of your wonderful friend and all the others I had the privalidge to meet in the QMH Hospice ward.
    Theresa. X

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