Issued by Ards Borough Council
A garden dedicated to recognising the gift of life provided by organ donation has opened in Newtownards, exactly six months after the first sod was cut.
Created by Ards Borough Council, the ‘New Life Garden’ has been developed in partnership with the Northern Ireland Transplant Forum, contributing to a national drive to recognise the gift of life provided by organ donors and their families.
Located beside Kiltonga Hall, a previously uncultivated space has been transformed with floral and planting displays, a pagoda with trailing flowers, along with walkways and seating areas.
Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, Public Health Agency said: “I am delighted to participate in the opening of the ‘New Life Garden’. It is a wonderful place that offers transplant recipients, donor families and those still waiting for a transplant a place for reflection, to give thanks for the generosity of others, and a place to celebrate the gift of life. The garden is a credit to everyone involved who made a dream become a reality.
Dr Rooney continued: “We have seen a welcomed increase in the number of people signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register in Northern Ireland, but the generosity of others needs to continue if we are to save the lives of those still waiting, hopefully this garden in its entirety will make people aware of the need for registration and encourage them to sign up today.”
The garden was officially opened by Mayor of Ards, Councillor Mervyn Oswald. He said: “Kilotnga Hall has become a very popular choice for weddings and we in Ards Borough Council first considered landscaping the space beside the building as an attractive area for photographs. When we became aware of the vision to establish a garden in Northern Ireland which would celebrate the gift of life which comes from the generosity of organ donors and their families, we decided to merge the two. And they are not so far apart as they seem – marriage signifies the start of a new life and so too does organ donation for any transplant recipient. They both involve commitment, trust and selflessness. And while you could be forgiven for thinking that this garden ought to be sombre and sad, it isn’t and is not intended to be. Yes, it is a tranquil spot for reflection, but it is about celebrating the great gift of life and being thankful for it.
“The garden is a growing, living thing, which will mature and develop in the seasons to come and in that sense, I hope it is a symbol for the growth in awareness of organ donation, for the number of people who sign up to the register and for the number of people whose lives will be transformed through organ donation. I’m delighted that the Council has been able to contribute to making the vision of the ‘New Life Garden’ a reality”.
The campaign to establish a garden to recognise and celebrate the bravery of organ donors and their families has been led by William Johnston, a dialysis patient who has been waiting for a kidney transplant for over 12 years, and Geraldine McCandless, also a dialysis patient. Mr Johnston is delighted that their vision has now become a reality:
"I am so delighted that the vision of a New Life Garden is about to be realised and will be forever grateful to Ards Borough Council for the development of the garden. The New Life Garden will bring comfort to donor families and transplant recipients of Northern Ireland and give hope and strength to the many people waiting for a life-transforming transplant."
Anyone who would like further information about organ donation can telephone 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.
For further information contact Ursula Mezza, Ards Borough Council, Tel: 028 9182 4021 or William Johnston, Tel: 028 9127 1312, E: email@example.com
Notes to the editor
- The ‘New Life’ garden at Kiltonga Hall, was officially opened on Tuesday 21 June at 2.30pm. Representatives from all the charities of the NI Transplant Forum, the NI Transplant Coordinators, as well as organ recipients and donor families were present.
- The Northern Ireland Transplant Forum consists of representatives from all Northern Ireland charities with an interest in increasing organ donation, including: NIKPA (NI Kidney Patient Association), NIKRF (NI Kidney Research Fund), NITA (NI Transplant Association), RVH LSG (Royal Victoria Hospital Liver Support Group) and TS NI (Transplant Sport Northern Ireland)
- You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by
You can also join when you are:
• Registering for a driving licence
• Applying for a Boots Advantage Card
• Registering at a GP surgery
• Registering for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Caption for photograph:
Pictured at the opening of the New Life Garden are (L-R) Geraldine McCandless, dialysis patient, William Johnston, dialysis patient, Councillor Mervyn Oswald, Mayor of Ards and Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive PHA and Chair of the Organ Donation Taskforce Implementation Group.