Connecting with nature and enjoying green spaces and fresh air is now recognised as being vitally important for our mental health and wellbeing.

We are transforming some of the outdoor spaces at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre into beautiful gardens and woodland areas for patients and staff to relax in.

The centre has appointed its first ever Nature Recovery Ranger, Karen MacKelvie, to oversee the projects which include a fern garden outside the chemotherapy suite and a woodland walk and wildflower meadow with seating areas for patients and staff.

Karen (pictured) is employed as part of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s Green Space for Health programme, with Government funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. 

Karen said: "Having lived and worked in Shetland for 25 years, coming this far south for my ‘dream job’ could potentially have been a culture shock, but I have to say I feel instantly at home in this area. It’s maybe because I grew up in the west end of Glasgow, surrounded by similarly rich pockets of urban nature or maybe because everyone is so welcoming but it’s a full-circle feeling for me and I’m pleased to be in post in such an obviously well-loved hospital.

"My job is to make better use of the outdoor spaces for the health and wellbeing of the staff, patients and the community. One of the first things I’d like to do is make some ‘secret gardens’ for staff to get a little leafy respite."

The fern garden will be a lovely place in which patients, families and staff can relax and unwind. There will be a shelter and seats to accommodate a nurse, a patient and a chemo stand so that outdoor chemotherapy is possible for those who want it. 

The woodland walk will provide accessible walking close to the hospital for everyone. There will be a wooded area, a wild flower meadow to attract butterflies, bees and other insects and seating areas. The colours and the scents will help ease our minds. 

If you would like to help fund projects like this at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, please visit: