Walking gardens to help stroke and amputee patients opened at Colchester hospital

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the open

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the opening of Colchester General Hospital's new walking gardens. - Credit: Su Anderson

Two walking gardens to help rehabilitating patients have been opened at Colchester General Hospital.

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the open

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the opening of Colchester General Hospital's new walking gardens. - Credit: Su Anderson

The gardens, in courtyards next to the hospital’s Gainsborough Wing, will be used to help patients with prosthetic legs learn to walk, as well as stroke victims and many others.

They were created after an idea from the Colchester Prosthetic User Group (PUG), which helped with the design and fundraising for the £59,000 scheme.

Two-thirds of the total came from a government fund set up to improve prosthetic services.

The Colchester Catalyst Charity donated £10,000 while £10,700 came from Colchester Hospitals Charity which included a bequest to the Stroke Unit from former Walton resident Dorothea Divall.

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the open

Amputees Graham Steely, Sandra Staffiers and Christopher Harwood try walking in the sand at the opening of Colchester General Hospital's new walking gardens. - Credit: Su Anderson

Tracey Williams-Macklin, head of occupational therapy at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so pleased to have such an active user group which works with us to improve our facilities and the trust thanks them for all their time and dedication to the project.

“The gardens will encourage many individuals to gain confidence walking on everyday surfaces.

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“Patients can try the varied surfaces in a safe and controlled environment, which will lead to them being able to have an independent lifestyle within their local community.

“It’s a great place for the prosthetist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist to assess an individual’s outdoor mobility.”

Work has involved planting, laying artificial turf, improving drainage, replacing handrails, putting down new specialised surfaces and installing a bespoke parasol.

A plaque was unveiled in one of the gardens by Colchester resident Frances Collins, a founder member of PUG in 2009 and who still serves on its committee.

Guests at the ceremony included representatives from amputee charities and user groups from across the UK.

PUG chairman Graham Facey added: “We are so proud to see the project completed and would like to thank every individual and organisation which has made it possible.”

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