"I come here regularly.  My husband is receiving treatment for lung cancer and I come straight here.  It’s a lovely space."

A newly constructed woodland walkway officially opened for staff, patients and the community at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, Northwood on 2 August.

This exciting project sees the return of ‘fresh air for health’ at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre as the hospital was originally built for patients with tuberculosis and other lung diseases. First opened in 1902, the hospital was a place where patients could benefit from innovative ‘fresh air treatment’ that had been pioneered in Europe. The site was chosen for its high ground and gentle slopes within easy reach of London. 

Fast forward to the 21st century and there is mounting evidence of the benefits being in nature can bring to both your mental and physical wellbeing. Studies have shown that just 15 minutes of being in nature can help your stress levels go down and your heart rate and blood pressure improve. With the impact of COVID-19, outdoor spaces around hospitals have never been more important for patients, staff and visitors.

The new woodland walkway features an elegant, wheelchair-accessible path so that patients and staff can enjoy a lovely walk around the historic lawn and newly created wildflower meadow. At its furthest point, the path wends its way through secluded woodland providing walkers with a real sense of being in nature whilst remaining close to the hospital buildings.

Ginnie Abubakar, cancer support and information manager said: “The woodland walkway together with the meadow planting, funded by East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity and Heathrow Community Fund, is a fabulous addition to the site and we are delighted to see it completed.  This will be a real benefit for both our patients and our staff who will be able to take some time away from the hospital to enjoy the peace and quiet of the beautiful surroundings.”

As part of the wider Green Spaces for Health project, the woodland walk will be not only be used by staff and patients who want to take a break from the busy hospital environment but it will also be used for more organised outdoor activities with patient and community groups. 

"I feel so troubled but when I sit there I feel calm and I feel better.  My mind is buzzing and those thoughts just slip away when I’m here."

To support work like this, please visit: enhhcharity.org.uk/Appeal/mvcc.