14 December | community

The Fairy Garden returns to the John Hunter Children's Hospital

Nestled in a courtyard adjacent to the Children’s Oncology & Surgery Wards of the John Hunter Children’s Hospital (JHCH) is a sanctuary for children, young people and families visiting the hospital. 

In 2007 ‘The Fairy Garden’ was specifically created for patients and families to escape the reality of being in hospital.

“We have more than 10,000 admissions a year, and quite a number are here for extended periods. There is a craving for the outside world, and outside the hospital itself isn’t possible. So, having an environment like this provides them an outlet to fresh air and provides some normality”

Dr Paul Craven – John Hunter Hospital

Over time the garden has matured. Poor drainage meant ground moisture and mosquitos became a real issue. Root systems had lifted and cracked large sections of pathway making the area unstable and not safe for use. Much of the timber seating and shelters originally installed had rotted and been removed.

With a long history of charitable work with the JHCH, the objective this time was simple. Return this space to the kids, families and staff of the hospital with upgrades to the garden’s footprint and long-term solutions to safety, drainage, root damage, soft fall paths, privacy areas, children's play areas and seating. It was imperative we ensured equal opportunity and availability (where there wasn’t before) for those confined to the hospital grounds, whether they be on foot, in wheelchairs or confined to bed.

“Business is all about giving back to your community. Partnering with the Children’s Hospital on this one was simple - we did it because we could do it.”
Grahame Chevalley – GWH Director

With limited access to the site, this project was always going to be labour intensive. The scope of works was much bigger than GWH could deliver alone. Thanks to our long running partnerships with our suppliers and contractors it only took a call or email, and we were met with an overwhelming response to help. Together with the internal volunteering program GWH offers its staff we delivered this project in 10 weeks using

- 3 x GWH staff onsite fulltime – (950+ hrs.)

- 42 x GWH staff ‘Donated a Day’ – (350+ hrs)

- 51 x GWH contractors & suppliers donated expertise, labour, materials, equipment or monetary donations


"For the thousands of children and their families who step foot in this purpose built space, it will be a place to smile, to laugh, to breathe and at times a quiet place to grieve. For the Children’s Hospital, the objective can’t be met in dollar value or foot traffic, the objective is measured in smiles, and to date from the smiles the hospital has seen, the objective is well and truly being met”.
Lucas Coleman - Manager, Communication, Fundraising and Volunteering

Culturally for GWH this has been one of our most rewarding charitable donations to date. It’s also helped to solidify relationships with our partners that will benefit our community into the future. Most importantly it’s delivered a physical and psychologically safe space for the kids who need it most.


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