AN AMBITIOUS project to transform an unused, grey patch into a 'zen' garden at an Oxfordshire hospital has finally been given the green light.

Work on a 'Peace and Tranquillity Garden' at Abingdon Community hospital were halted earlier this year by the Covid-19 crisis but will now go ahead from August 24.

This project will see the transformation of an unused grassy area into an 'accessible, quiet and safe space to be enjoyed' by patients, healthcare workers and visitors.

The initiative is funded by Oxford Health Charity and is part of the trust’s ‘Green Spaces Framework’ set up last year to develop outdoor spaces and support people’s health and wellbeing through nature.

Mandy Mckendry, who works for the charity, is the person who started the project last summer.

She was inspired when she visited Witney Community Hospital and saw how the gardens there affected staff and patients.

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She instantly recognised that there was a need at Abingdon for something similar.

Ms McKendry said: "I saw the gardens at the Witney and thought that there was a huge opportunity to turn the grassy area outside the Urgent Care team office into a tranquil, green space for those who just need a bit of respite."

An artist's impression of the new garden shows a large grassy area with flowers and high trees.

As a 'firm believer' in the therapeutic power of green spaces, Ms McKendry secured £10,000 funding from Oxford Health Charity for the initiative.

The organisation's work supports projects that enhance patient, carer and staff experiences at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Oxfordshire’s community hospital.

Ms McKendry won a Helpforce Champions award last year in recognition of her contribution to volunteering in the NHS.

The Oxfordshire resident quickly rallied a team into action and plans were set in motion to begin ground work on the garden over the Easter holidays.

However, the project had to be put on hold during lockdown.

The team now includes Tom Cox, Oxford Health’s Artscape manager.

He, on the other hand, also invited Chiltern Rangers on board.

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Based in High Wycombe, the non-profit practical conservation group has experience assisting on other Trust garden projects in Buckinghamshire.

Mr Cox said: "Chiltern Rangers are helping us to develop our outdoor spaces as part of the Trust’s Green Spaces Framework.

"This was set up with the aim to support people through nature.

"We are really looking forward to getting this project back on track."

Oxford Health’s director of corporate affairs Kerry Rogers praised the team for their 'commitment'.

She said: "It is wonderful to see such commitment to this collaborative project that will make such a difference to the health and wellbeing of staff as well as patients."

Chiltern Rangers, their volunteers and Oxford Health staff will be working on the major project over the summer.

According to their plans the garden could be ready and open for visitors by September.