BLOG: Military nurses sign up for garden duty

Nurses’ hands aren’t only for delivering compassionate care. A band of community-minded military nurses put their green fingers to good use recently on voluntary weeding and seeding duty in the grounds of our specialist unit at Turnchapel.

It’s hard graft every day on the wards of Derriford Hospital for the members of the Joint Hospital Group South West, so it was a breath of fresh air for them to roll up their sleeves and lend St Luke’s garden team a hand last week.

When they’d finished outdoors, they spruced up the Memory Tree in the conservatory at Turnchapel, polishing the leaves so that each one shines brightly for the special loved one they honour.

The enthusiastic Armed Forces group were pictured at the end of their afternoon session along with St Luke’s maintenance worker Dave, maintenance volunteer John, and specialist unit nurse Rachel.

Laura Champion, lead for the JHGSW group said: “We really enjoyed the experience and it’s something we would do again. In fact, we would like to make it a regular thing.

“We’d had end of life training, learning about what to do when someone dies on board ship. We decided we wanted to do something useful for St Luke’s for our team building session, so we emailed to offer our services.”

Laura, who toured the specialist unit with group member Poppy Archer-Dunne as part of their first ever visit, added: “We do get patients who go on to be cared for at St Luke’s specialist unit and it really helps to be able to picture where they are coming to.

“We were aware of St Luke’s excellent work in Derriford, but it was so beneficial to get a better understanding of the unit and find out how St Luke’s operates in the community.”

Poppy said that as well as giving St Luke’s a helping hand, the nurses got a lot back from by their visit.

It’s lovely and peaceful here – it has a very nice vibe. I found it really therapeutic. We were very lucky with the weather, and we were very well looked after.”

Plymouth is the base port for all the nurses – a mix of Royal Navy and RAF personnel. They keep their skills up by working at Derriford in between deployments.

“A lot of the nurses are a long way from home, with many living at HMS Drake, and they don’t know Plymouth very well. It was great for us to get out of the city a bit and enjoy the amazing views here.

At St Luke’s we welcome volunteer groups from local organisations and businesses. Our corporate volunteering days are great for team building, while supporting end-of-life care in your community. Find out more by emailing corporate@stlukes-hospice.org.uk