Severn Hospice Welcomes New Head Gardener


A love of gardening as a small child led a man to the gates of a beloved Shropshire charity.

Joel Richards has taken on the role of Head Gardener at Severn Hospice Gardens in Telford and Shrewsbury.

Joel Richards has just assumed the role of Head Gardener in the gardens of Severn Hospice in Apley in Telford and Bicton in Shrewsbury.

The 47-year-old from Bomere Heath, near Shrewsbury, can’t wait to get his hands dirty and let his imagination run wild for the award-winning storylines.

After working for the National Trust at Sunnycroft in Telford and Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, for 22 years, Joel is now in charge of landscaping and planting the areas surrounding the new Hospice Campus Community Center in Bicton as well as the Telford Charitable Hospice.

“It is a real honor to be able to have the opportunity to achieve something that is in your head and to see it come to pass,” said Joel. “I started gardening when I was a kid and my parents are passionate gardeners too. It’s great to be able to have a vision and see it come to fruition in a garden.

He also has many plans to create quiet areas in the established gardens at Apley and develop mindful walks in both gardens. This is in addition to the maintenance work he and his team of gardeners and volunteers do every day, regardless of the weather in the beautiful gardens.

“I have a really amazing space to maintain here at the hospice, but I also have a blank canvas, so I have the best of both worlds.”

For the space around the Bicton Community Center, Joel plans a meadow-style garden, planted with herbs, verbena and gravel paths. At the rear of the building, the ground has been prepared and sown with wildflower seeds for a colorful meadow.

“I don’t know how many will bloom though,” he said. “The pigeons seem to have eaten the seed.”

He hopes his mindful walks create spiritually uplifting areas and encourage visitors, staff and patients to stop and take in the sights and smells of nature.

“When I applied for the job here at Severn Hospice, I was nervous,” he said. “But as soon as I came for my interview, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I wanted to work in a place that has such an impact on people’s lives and where I can put my horticultural skills to good use in such a beautiful environment.

“The main goal in my head is to get every staff member here at the hospice to see the gardens as a tool that really makes a difference for everyone who comes – whether they are staff, visitors. or patients. The garden is another way for them to bring comfort to those we love.

Severn Hospice is a charity that cares and supports thousands of people living with an incurable disease in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales. It is not part of the NHS and is funded by donations, fundraisers and grants.

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