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HRH Princess Alexandra gives care home’s garden the Royal seal of approval

 Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra has visited Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton to look around its revamped garden.

Princess Alexandra went to the care home on Wednesday 9 November to officially reopen the garden, which underwent a renovation earlier this year.

The Princess has been Royal Star & Garter’s President since 1964. The charity provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, and also has Homes in Solihull and High Wycombe.

The Princess was welcomed by The Reverend Martin Hislop, Representative Deputy Lieutenant, Kingston upon Thames, and then introduced to Royal Star & Garter Chair Major General Tim Tyler, Chief Executive Andy Cole, and Director of Care Pauline Shaw. She then met the Home’s Care Manager Yasmin Rogers, before spending time chatting with the many residents gathered in the dining and café-bar areas. 

Her Royal Highness was then taken out into the spruced-up garden and new garden room, where she cut a ribbon for its official opening, and viewed a commemorative plaque. She then received a posy of flowers from 100-year-old resident Phyllis Hales, who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) during WWII.

Also present were representatives from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which helped support the garden renovation with a generous grant. The Monday Charitable Trust and B&Q Foundation also provided grants for the project.

The upgraded garden includes new features and has been landscaped to make it more accessible for residents. Improvements have been made to the planting areas and raised beds to engage veterans in gardening activities, and an outdoor dining and visiting area has been created.

The improved garden provides a wellbeing boost for veterans at Royal Star & Garter. Research shows spending time in green space or bringing nature into everyday life can benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. These include increased confidence and self-esteem and a reduction in feelings of stress.

Army veteran Ken, who lives at the Home, said: “I use the garden every day, it’s good for my wellbeing. I enjoy the fresh air, the peacefulness and the quiet. It looks beautiful now, and it’s nice to watch the wildlife. We’re very lucky to have it.

Royal Star & Garter Chair Major General Tim Tyler said: “It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to the Home. The garden has already been put to good use this year, with lots of outdoor activities taking place during the summer, and the garden room hosting 100th birthday parties. It is a great place to help support residents’ mental health and physical health.

Director of Care Pauline Shaw said: “It was a delight to welcome Princess Alexandra to our Surbiton Home and show her our beautiful garden. Residents and staff enjoyed talking to her about the impact the garden has had at the Home, and she appreciated the importance of spending time outside for good mental health and wellbeing.

Brigadier (Ret’d) Peter Monteith, Chief of Staff at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, added: “Royal Star & Garter’s care homes are among the most highly rated in the country. As its brand states, this wonderful organisation has been providing ‘care with courage’ to Armed Forces veterans for over 100 years, including award-winning specialist dementia care. Our charity is always proud to support its work and we are thrilled to hear that the garden project is now complete – which will be a wonderful facility for residents to enjoy.

Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work at the Home, go to www.starandgarter.org/surbiton

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