Memorial bench donation delights Birmingham family

28/06/2016

A bench has been unveiled in memory of garden-loving grandad Nick McGrath in the former TV gardens in Kings Heath Park, Birmingham which are now looked after by the disability charity Thrive.

The McGrath family were devastated when Nick, of Hall Green, passed away in 2015 after living with dementia for a number of years.

Just two days after he died, the family were watching the BBC Lifeline appeal where the former pop star-turned gardener Kim Wilde spoke movingly about the work Thrive does in helping people with disabilities or ill health, or those who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.

The family had not heard of Thrive, but a quick look on the internet took them to the charity’s website and the realisation that it had a local presence in Kings Heath Park.

A collection at the funeral raised more than £900 and the family decided to donate the money to Thrive and asked if some of it could be used to buy a memorial bench.

Thrive has a great partnership with Forest Garden and has contributed to the design of many Accessible Garden products so approached the Worcestershire-based company to ask if it could donate a bench. The company came up trumps with its Cadiz Arbour seat.

Amanda Fields, regional manager at Thrive Birmingham, said: "We were delighted when Forest agreed to this because it meant we could use the money to run some gardening workshops for people with dementia.

"At one of the days a worker at the care home said she’d never heard the lady speak so much about anything before and she had been in the home for a few years.

"It shows how powerful gardening can be to people living with dementia and can evoke such strong memories and feelings whilst engaging in a worthwhile activity."

Marian Lenaghan, one of Nick’s four children, said: "On behalf of my mum Mary, sister Jo and brothers Michael and Martin, and the rest of the family, I’d like to thank Forest Garden and Thrive for enabling this to happen.

"Dad was such a keen gardener and his grand-daughter even read a poem at the funeral called 'My grandad kept a garden’ which was so emotional and included the line "we are our grandads’ garden".

"As Kings Health Park is so local to us it will be wonderful for us all to come here and see the bench in the TV gardens when Thrive has its open afternoons during the summer."

Stephen Gregory, marketing manager at Forest Garden, said: "We were delighted to be able to donate this bench and have enjoyed a partnership with Thrive for a number of years now.

"We look forward to continuing this relationship with a charity that uses gardening as a worthwhile and meaningful therapy helping so many people."