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VIDEO: Take a look round Aberdeen Hospital’s stunning new rooftop garden

This is the first look at the “pioneering” £600,000 green space for patients of the north-east’s flagship hospital.

The doors of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s therapeutic roof garden, located above the accident and emergency department, will officially open in a matter of weeks.

Already the green space – which was designed by award-winning gardener Professor Nigel Dunnett and funded by donations – is impressing patients, and has had a great response from families and staff alike.

The garden is lined by wooden seating and features Chinese Dogwood trees, a water feature, plants, bushes, shelter and a living wall.

Roof-Garden-ARI3 Roof-Garden-ARI1 Roof-Garden-ARI4 Roof-Garden-ARI

It will be open to all patients at ARI and also to youngsters being treated at the Aberdeen Royal Children’s Hospital.

Reverend James Falconer, NHS Grampian’s healthcare chaplain, is behind the project, as he believes people suffering from – or coming to terms with – an illness need an open space to reflect.

The campaign for a roof garden at the hospital has been on-going since 2012, with a raft of local groups and individuals all getting on board to help raise the money.

Rev Falconer added: “It came about historically in my work supporting adults following trauma – general trauma and particularly brain injury and indeed working in the children’s hospital with young people.

“I became really aware of how important it was in terms of what people were saying that they access outside space.

“I took a number outside in their beds, but I could only take them to where the buses turn or to the top of the steps at the children’s hospital.

“So when the opportunity came to have this roof space I was part of a wee working group looking at this whole area, I asked if it might be possible to create a garden, a green space here on this roof in order to take people outside.”

Fundraising is still going on for the project, but work is in progress for a help system, video access and push pads to make the garden accessible to all.

“The response from patients and relatives and staff that have gone out has been this is an amazing space that will make a huge difference to people,” Rev Falconer said.

“The response from staff, now that they have seen it they see lots of potential for taking people out. Lots of therapists are hoping they can actively use the space, physiotherapy, speech and language might take patients out and actually work in the space.”

“Roof garden will aid patient’s recoveries”

Rev Falconer said the roof garden would not only offer a place for patients to come from fresh air, but that it could also aid their recovery.

He has called for other Scottish hospitals to follow suit by establishing therapeutic green spaces.

The chaplain added the garden will be a place for patients and families both to come to terms with a diagnosis.

Rev Falconer said: “In many ways it is pioneering, other hospitals have gardens. I know the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow have a roof garden that children can go out into. I know of other roof spaces patients are not allowed to go into.

“We have invested a huge amount of money in order to make it possible for our patients and their relatives to actually get out into the space.

“It really is a working space, a clinical space for people to think through where they are at on their health journey.

“It really is (for) people diagnosed with the likes of Parkinson’s Disease or multiple sclerosis or breast cancer, who are

asking ‘what is the future going to be for me? How am I going to cope? How am I going to tell my family?’

“It is a thinking space, a reflective space.”

The garden was donated to ARI at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show.

Those that have helped make the project a reality are commemorated on a thank you board in the hallway outside the space.

Rev Falconer added: “The response from the public, from individuals, from groups, from companies from churches from clubs and organisations has just been amazing, we have had huge financial support.”