Work has started on transforming the pond at the entrance of Great Western Hospital into a 'wellbeing garden' for staff and visitors to use.

The hospital trust’s charity Brighter Futures has launched a fundraising effort, which is asking the people of Swindon and Wiltshire to support the garden in any way that they can.

Fundraisers can sponsor trees and shrubs or have their own messages on plaques.

The hospital is looking for volunteer gardeners who would be willing to help maintain the garden and others at the site.

And they are seeking local artists and sculptors who want to be part of the project.

“We want this to be a big community thing,” said Cat Weaver, associate director of fundraising at the trust.

“We’re working with Westlea Landscaping, local gardeners that also did the mother and baby courtyard.

"Serco has donated time to help us keep the garden watered and beautiful.

“This space is for local people to use, so we want to involve them in helping us to create it through this appeal.”

The garden will be fully accessible with pathways wide enough for wheelchairs and even for patients to come out of the hospital on their beds to enjoy it.

It is described as 'showcasing three focal points, including a lath house with roof and seating area, providing a quiet place for contemplation, a raised seating area surrounded by planters for people to enjoy a hidden jungle with far reaching views across the pond, and a sunken garden with two moon gates that people can pass through amongst the colourful boarders'.

The memorial garden will have an interactive element, and a trail offering information and advice in support of the mental health and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors.

Cat added: “The garden will be a legacy to Covid. Over 338 lives have been lost across Swindon, including a number of staff, which has been devastating.

"We wanted to create a wellbeing garden, not a memorial garden, to celebrate their lives.

“The garden is not just about the people we’ve lost. It will be a celebration of life. We hope to transform the pond space for staff and visitors to sit and reflect.”

Just over £55,000 has been raised so far, with £25,000 coming from The Hospital Company (Swindon and Marlborough) Limited, which is supporting us with building the garden.

The Trust is hoping the garden will be finished next year, in time for the Queens Platinum Jubilee.