The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Let's talk up the 'Natural' Health Service - Esther Biesmans, Macmillan Advanced Practitioner Radiographer

27 April 2021

This National Gardening Week (26 April - 2 May) we are hearing from members of staff at LTHT how a dose of 'Vitamin G' has helped reduce stress and improve personal wellbeing during difficult times. Today we are hearing from Esther Biesmans, Macmillan Advanced Practitioner Radiographer.

Esther volunteering at the Walled GardenEsther: Last year during the summer, having not been able to see my family (they live abroad), and knowing that I probably wouldn’t see them for at least another year, I wondered what I could do to keep my wellbeing going. I’m a part-time band 7 therapeutic radiographer, specialising in supporting anxious stressed cancer patients, and rising levels of stress and anxiety amongst our patients and staff were starting to affect me too.

I’ve always admired a place called ‘The Walled Garden’, which is just up the road from where I live in Ripon. It’s absolutely beautiful. It used to be the working kitchen garden of an old Bishop’s Palace, still has the ancient apple orchard and adjoining woodland. It is now a charitable community project, where adults with learning disabilities come to spend a few hours every week gardening and doing little projects.

From not knowing anything about gardening I have now picked apples, wheelbarrowed tons of compost, planted hundreds of plants (for their shop), created Christmas wreaths using cuttings from their own bushes and trees, sold Christmas trees, and lots more. I think they even have bee hives as they sell their own honey.

The Walled GardenI hear corporate volunteers from the military base at Menwith Hill have come to help in the woodland, and it has done them a lot of good too. They spend their days in rooms without windows in a high security environment and just being able to be out in the fresh air, digging and tidying up, has been good for them.

I would definitely recommend volunteering in community gardening to anybody needing a ‘change of scenery’ but who - like me - are not really into sweating it off in gyms! You meet new people and learn new skills, and still get a rewarding feeling of having done some good.