JOSEPH KPOBIE, well-known for playing Juley Smith in Eastenders, will visit St George’s Hospital in Tooting on Tuesday 1 May to open a new garden at the heart of the hospital. Mr Kpobie was born at St George’s, his mother nursed at the hospital for many years and his sister is a member of staff.

During the opening ceremony, which will take place in the garden from 12 noon, Mr Kpobie will also reveal the new name for the garden which has been selected through a staff competition. The competition was open to all staff working at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. A panel of judges convened to choose the new name and included Neal Deans, Director of Estates & Facilities, Bob Holdawanski, Head Gardener, Rev Hilary Johnson, Chaplaincy Team Manager, Debbie King, Patient Representative, Gill Noble, Chairman of St George’s Hospital Charity and Jayne Quigley, Head of Nursing.

After much deliberation and discussion, the panel has chosen the new name for the garden which will be revealed publicly on 1 May. The panel was keen to choose a name that confirmed the garden as an oasis within the hospital environment, an escape from clinical space and a refuge from the institution. The panel also wanted to define the identity of the garden through its name, rather than its location within the hospital.

The new garden replaces a pharmacy garden originally built in 1982 and which was initially open to the public, but as health and safety regulations came into force the garden soon had to close to the public.

In 2006, the St George’s Hospital Charity offered to fund the revitalisation of the space. They awarded a grant of £130,000 to afford a scheme that would make the garden fully accessible to the patients, staff and visitors.

The garden was designed and installed by Richard Marti Garden Architects following competitive tendering and following a brief ‘to give people refuge from clinical spaces’. The garden has been designed to allow multi-dimensional interest, that is, that the scheme will work when viewed from each side, above or when entered. The garden is accessible to all, including wheelchair users and patients on hospital beds, and seating areas provide pockets of quiet and privacy for people to sit and relax.

The planting scheme, when fully mature, will give a bold natural look. The plants, which are mostly blue and white with green foliage, are aimed at giving a calming effect, and which complement the silver and blue/grey paving.

Gill Noble, Chairman of the St George’s Hospital Charity said “The Trustees and I are delighted that we have been able to provide this beautiful new garden for everyone to enjoy. The garden is especially precious because of its central location. We wanted to turn it into a calm oasis for people to escape into. We are delighted that so many people are already enjoying the space, particularly patients in their hospital beds. When you are stuck in hospital, there are few things that can lift your spirits faster than to get out into the fresh air, see some lovely green plants and feel the sun on your face.

“We know the Hospital Trust is committed to enhancing its green spaces for patients, visitors and staff alike, but they could not have found money for a project like this. We think the garden is an excellent use of our charitable funds and with the public’s help, we hope to be able to raise money to do even more great projects for the hospital in the future.”

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please call Liz Woods, Charitable Communications Manager at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 020 8725 4522 or e-mail
  2. St George’s Hospital Charity (registered charity number 241527) supports the patients and staff of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by awarding grants to enable improvements in hospital buildings, facilities and equipment, for innovation and research and for the direct benefit of patients and staff.
  3. The St George’s Hospital Charity was previously known as the St George’s Charitable Foundation. In changing its name, the Charity aims to be a more recognisable force within the hospital and local community, hoping to develop a culture of fundraising for and giving to George’s.