Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Una’s mission comes up roses for garden
A WIDOW braved swollen legs and rampaging rabbits during an epic one-woman mission around the shores of Britain to keep a garden for the bereaved forever blooming.
Former Marie Curie nurse Una Dunnett began creating the Solace Garden, near the chapel at Astwood Cemetery, Worcester, in 2010, as a lasting memorial to her husband of 43 years John ‘Bunny’ Dunnett, who died in February 2009. However, she always maintained the garden was to ease the pain of all people who had suffered loss and belonged to everyone in the city who could draw some comfort from it.
And in a bid to protect the garden for the future, self-confessed “tough old bird” Mrs Dunnett, aged 70, took on a fund-raising trek around the country.
She has recently returned from the eight-week trek following the coast of England, Wales and Scotland, taking in both John o’ Groats in the far north of Scotland and Land’s End in Cornwall and many places in between, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newport, Northumberland, Norfolk, Kent and Sussex. She drove in a customised yellow van but then headed out on her tricycle, adapted to help her cope with her physical disabilities, along piers, promenades and beach fronts, collecting £300 as she went. Ultimately, she hopes to raise enough money to create a ‘bursar’ to maintain the Solace Garden for future generations.
Mrs Dunnett, who has rheumatoid arthritis, bowel problems and a new knee, which means one of her legs cannot bend, did not let any of her ailments deter her when she set off on her trip, on Tuesday, July 16. She estimates she covered 5,000 miles, sleeping in her van and making picnics to save money. “There were times when I thought “why did I do this?” she said. “People said I was mad. But it has been wonderful.” During the adventure, her legs swelled up until they became “like elephant legs” and at one point the underside of her car was besieged by rabbits – but still she pushed on, in the hope of preserving the garden.
She said: “I worked as a Marie Curie nurse for 34 years. When I lost my lovely husband I realised what it was like to be bereaved myself.” The garden itself contains hostas, gladioli, grasses, ferns, hollies and delphinium and the various plants have been chosen so it looks beautiful in each of the four seasons.
Mrs Dunnett added: “It’s beautiful for most of the year and you can see it through the French windows. When you lose someone you love it is the worst day of your life. People can focus on the plants and it helps them get through this awful experience. “It is absolutely full of flowers now. It is to provide some comfort when people are bereaved. “I’m honoured when people come to talk to me and see the flowers. It would be such a shame for the garden to revert to weeds.” Now, she wants support from Worcester News readers to increase her bursary fund. She is also keen to hear from people who love gardening who may be able to help her keep the Solace Garden in bloom.
Call her on 01905 25043.