Community garden opens at Falkirk Community Hospital

8-Aug-2014

Popular garden is restored to its former glory, with tribute to veterans of World War I

Young and old came together recently to celebrate the official opening of the newly-refurbished community garden at Falkirk Community Hospital in Scotland.

The garden – once a focal point of the hospital grounds – has been restored to its former glory, with decorative railings, pillared walls and a carved stone culvert from ‘Jenny Mair’s Burn’, which runs through the area.

The wrought iron gates in the garden, which were donated by former Falkirk High School pupils in memory of their peers who were killed in World War I, have also been restored and there are plans to restore two commemorative plaques which were originally displayed on the gates.

During the visit current pupils from Falkirk High School interested in volunteering at the hospital met war veterans Ally Gemmell and Charlie MacFarlane from the Armed Services Advice Project, which supports and builds relationships with local veterans and their dependents in the Forth Valley area. The pupils also learned of the hospital’s history courtesy of local historian and author, Ian Scott, who explained that the site was used as a distribution hospital during World War I, and that of the 500 Falkirk High pupils who fought in the conflict, almost 20% did not return home, hence the commemorative gates and plaque donated by their peers.

Contractor, Walter Gibb, also explained the process of renovating the gardens, which were so overgrown when work mbegan that developers were surprised to find Caithness stone under the weeds. This, in turn, has been used to border the garden’s new flower beds.

This is the latest green space development at Falkirk Community Hospital, after the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) donated funds last year to create two gardens within the inner courtyard for patients and staff to enjoy. It also helps deliver NHS Forth Valley’s commitment to retain features from the former Falkirk Royal and District Infirmary and to improve landscaping across the site following the demolition of a number of buildings.

A stone engraved with the Falkirk Coat of Arms, which was originally displayed on an archway that once stood beyond the gates, has now been incorporated into one of the garden’s walls.

After officially opening the garden, NHS Forth Valley chairman, Alex Linkston, said: “I’m delighted that the gates and the garden have been restored to their formal glory to create a lovely, peaceful area which can be enjoyed by staff, patients and the local community.”

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Councillor John Patrick, Falkirk Council’s depute provost and veteran’s champion, also believes the garden will be beneficial to local people. He said: “This lovely garden not only pays tribute to the past, but also provides a great community facility for the future.”

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