New gardening club will have many benefits for Fylde coast cancer patients

Phil Hadgraft

There will be huge benefits to joining a new gardening group launched by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, according to a former cancer patient.

Phil Hadgraft from Cleveleys says the Willow Garden Project helped him to recover and regain a sense of wellbeing after cancer treatment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The Trust’s new gardening group, in partnership with the Trust’s Cancer Services team and backed by Macmillan Cancer Support, was launched on Wednesday, August 27, at the Willow Garden Project at Fleetwood Cricket Club.

Phil was one of the volunteers who was there to let people affected by cancer know about the project and the positive effects of gardening.

Phil said: “Coming to the Willow Garden Project was a really big help to me, especially in the first stages of my recovery from cancer.

“When you have had cancer you don’t necessarily know what the prognosis will be; gardening just takes your mind off everything. I was diagnosed about four years ago and I am fine now.

“I heard about the project through a family member. It really helped me at the time.

“I still come to the project as my wife passed away about a year ago. It’s a nice place to come.

“If anyone is thinking about coming here, I would say, just try it. You have to experience it to know if it’s for you or not. There are so many positive benefits.”

An unusual way of growing veg

The group for people affected by cancer will be held on a day when other groups are not at the Willow Garden Project.

Pat Gerrard, a Willow Garden volunteer, said: “I come with people who have learning difficulties – they get so much out of it.

“It’s just the warmth of the welcome here. They love the gardening and the crafts. We help each other and it’s very relaxing.”

The Willow Garden Project has been running for five years and it was founded by Pamela Laird from Fleetwood.

Pamela said: “We are looking forward to welcoming people who have been affected by cancer.

“At the moment the group will probably meet once a month. The idea of the open day was to get some feedback and to show what else we offer. We also have crafts, recycling, ‘upcycling’, relaxation and friendship.

“People can come here to learn new skills or to share skills they already have.

A lovely seating area in the garden

“People get so much pleasure out of it. If someone feels a bit down, they can come here to chill out. It’s a very relaxing place. We have things to do inside and outside. They can come and sit in the warmth and have a brew if they feel like it or take part in our activities.”

Jessica Jones, Macmillan Clinical Transformation Lead for the Trust, added: “There is evidence to show that being in a natural environment can have a positive effect on wellbeing, improving mindfulness and reducing stress levels.

“This is an ideal opportunity for people affected by cancer to take part in a creative activity with other people who are going through a similar experience.”

For more information contact Hannah McKearnen on 07879428970 or email

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