Little did we expect that a chance meeting with a passer-by enquiring about our gardens back in March, would lead to a complete transformation of the hospice grounds.

The passer-by introduced himself as Roy Down, RHS judge on the committee of North West in Bloom – and our journey to enter the prestigious competition for the first time ever led on from there.

We entered North West in Bloom under the "It’s your Neighbourhood" category, which focuses on our volunteer gardeners getting the recognition they deserve.

Since April, the Bury Hospice gardening squad has dedicated more than 800 hours of time to improving our surroundings through creative landscaping in order to achieve a sustainable environment, under the watchful eye of our green fingered facilities manager, Kevin Graham.

Roy recently came to the hospice in his official judging capacity to assess all of the volunteers’ hard work.

The garden before the work was carried outThe garden before the work was carried out (Image: Bury Hospice)

As he toured the grounds he met with a group of pupils from St Paul’s School in Bury, who were being given a lesson by Kevin on planting the sunflowers they had grown for us.

He also saw some of our key areas, including the composting and wildflower zones, and the wildlife area, complete with bug and hedgehog hotels, and bird and bat boxes too.

We explained our future plans to include new storage areas and greenhouses, and finished up the tour by showing Roy the stunning Japanese garden, which he didn’t know we had.

Joanne Johnson, volunteer services coordinator at the hospice, said: “I think it’s fair to say that Roy was speechless, he seemed genuinely impressed by the work we have done in such a short space of time.”

We have received an overwhelming amount of support throughout the transformative process, from local individuals and businesses who have donated gardening tools/supplies, plants, trees, and shrubs to get the project off the ground.

Three large teams of corporate volunteers from AO, NatWest, and Rakem Group, got stuck in with weeding, planting and trimming as part of their "Make a Difference"/"Corporate Giving Back" days.

These particular volunteering efforts amounted to more than 240 hours combined!

Rakem corporate volunteersRakem corporate volunteers (Image: Bury Hospice)

AO corporate volunteersAO corporate volunteers (Image: Bury Hospice)

An area of the gardens after being transformedAn area of the gardens after being transformed (Image: Bury Hospice)

An area of the gardens after being transformedAn area of the gardens after being transformed (Image: Bury Hospice)

The gardens represent a thriving, inclusive community, made up of volunteers from all walks of life who’ve come together to create a sanctuary that offers tranquillity and joy to everyone who steps into them.

We are proud to offer spaces where local people can contribute to something beautiful, witness the positive impact of their work, and be part of a project that truly makes a difference.

The gardens after being transformedAn area of the gardens after being transformed (Image: Bury Hospice)

Bury Hospice chief executive Helen LockwoodBury Hospice chief executive Helen Lockwood (Image: Bury Hospice)

We won’t receive any feedback or information about how well our gardens have done until the North West in Bloom awards ceremony takes place in October.

Wish us luck!

If you’d like to find out about becoming a volunteer at the hospice, please get in touch with Joanne Johnson by emailing or calling 0161 543 9671.