All eyes on Queen for roof garden opening at hospital
Monarch applauds work of all involved in creating special outdoor space at city hospital
“It was only possible because of extraordinary generosity of a host of people”
The Queen has praised the fundraisers and volunteers who turned the vision of a roof garden into a resplendent reality at a north-east hospital.
She officially opened the Robertson Family Roof Garden at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary yesterday.
After arriving at the hospital, the Queen met with the city’s Lord Provost, Barney Crockett, and representatives of NHS Grampian including healthcare chaplain the Rev James Falconer, who was the catalyst for the roof garden project.
She also spoke to the garden’s architect, designers and gardeners, before viewing a specially-commissioned silhouette feature of Balmoral Castle.
The Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.
Mr Falconer guided the royal visitor around the hospital for around 20 minutes, while she met health board staff and patients, and ambassadors of the garden including former Scotland football manager Craig Brown.
He said: “It was really a great honour that Her Majesty chose to come to open the roof garden, and recognises the courage of NHS Grampian to try the idea.
“It also highlights all of the support we have received from organisations and communities – everybody who gifted the money we needed to allow the garden to be created.
“I think the Queen felt it was a very lovely and appropriate space to enable some of our most severely ill patients to be taken outside with full ventilation.”
The £667,000 space opened to patients, visitors and staff at the hospital last year, after four years of work.
The garden offers 24hour access to a safe outdoor area, teeming with plants including lavender and ferns.
The wheelchair-friendly space also has a water feature and a small gazebo, to allow its visitors to shelter from the elements. Mr Falconer added: “It is of particular physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefit to critically ill and long-term adults and children, especially those recovering from trauma or facing the future after a life-changing or lifelimiting diagnosis.”
Former ARI patient, Paul Breen, was also introduced to the Queen during the visit.
He was hospitalised for more than two years after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2010.
In June, he was awarded a British Empire Medal for his ongoing charitable efforts, including raising money for the roof garden project.
The former train driver said: “She congratulated me on the fundraising for the garden and my part in that.
“I think it is wonderful, it’s better than I expected it to be.”
The hospital has received many visits from members of the Royal Family in the past few years.
Most recently, the Queen opened the Emergency Care Centre at ARI in 2013.
Stephen Logan, NHS Grampian chairman, said: “We are absolutely thrilled Her Majesty was able to come and formally open the Robertson Family Roof Garden.
“The support of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family is an enormous privilege and is something we are hugely grateful for.
“The garden was only possible because of the extraordinary generosity of a host of people across the north-east as well as further afield.
“Today’s opening is a testament to their support.
“We are also indebted to the huge number of volunteers who gave up their own time to help get us to this point.”
Professor Logan added: “The hope is this garden will lead to ‘green space’ being part of the future at Foresterhill and to the redevelopment of green spaces in other NHS Grampian sites.
“We are also investigating the possibility of constructing a garden for staff at Foresterhill that will provide a respite for them and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily business on this site.”
The Queen meets former Scotland football manager Craig Brown on a visit to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
WELCOME: The queen meets Abbotswell Primary School pupils on a visit to Sue Ryder Dee View Court care centre, Aberdeen.
The Queen with Lord Provost Barney Crockett