“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” Helen Keller – author, activist, and lecturer.
As I approach my seventh decade I am beginning to experience the frustration of a failing memory – appointments, names, the simplest of words, even what I did yesterday sometimes escapes me! Yet one thing remains – the memories of those I have loved and cherished, and these alone remain undiminished.
St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley provides end of life care and support to terminally ill people and their families across East Surrey and Mid Sussex, and the hospice staff know firsthand the value and importance of cherished memories for those who are bereaved.
However vibrant as memories can be, it often takes something tangible to focus our thoughts when we recall those precious to us. A photograph, a piece of music, a fragrance – such things have the ability to reignite our recollections in a powerful way.
For this reason, St Catherine’s Hospice has recently created a Memory Meadow in Reigate’s Priory Park, a place of reflection and tribute, somewhere to linger and remember, surrounded by nature. Designed by professional gardeners, and close to the tranquil water of the lake, the meadow has been planted with wildlife in mind attracting butterflies and bees to the flowers growing there.
On Saturday, May 20 there was a special celebration service to launch the meadow’s creation, and 350 people gathered to witness the first flush of flowering and to remember someone they love. Led by Rev Lisa Rainier, spiritual care lead at St Catherine’s, the moving service was attended by the Mayor of Reigate, David Powell, and included readings by hospice volunteer, Graham Ellis, and Wendy Buckingham, whose late husband was cared for by St Catherine’s.
Jazz musician, Matt Davies and singer, Sarah Esser, provided melody and song, and children blew bubbles amongst the blooms while wildflower seed packets were distributed for those wishing to create a memory meadow of their own. It was a special occasion, and St Catherine’s Hospice is grateful to all who attended the service.
Mary Skipper, individual giving manager at St Catherine’s, said: “At the hospice, we know many people get much-needed comfort from remembering special times they had with a loved one. We hope our memory meadow will continue to be a calming place for people to spend time through the changing seasons, and celebrate the life and memory of someone they love. Our memory meadow is all about renewal, hope and life, and provides a place for people to take time to reflect and remember.”
For more information about supporting St Catherine’s Hospice, please visit: www.stch.org.uk
By Sarah Ballingal