Candid With Cancer #8 – My Second Cancer Diagnosis
Thomas Ashley details his battle against AML as part of a new weekly blog
This year, Cure Leukaemia was lucky enough to be offered one of the show’s beautiful borders to design a garden and help tell the story of “Our Beth” and her love of sunflowers – thanks to the incredible community fundraising from Andrea Childs.
Andrea explained: “Working alongside Landscape Designer Dani King, we wanted to base the garden on a teaching and children theme as Beth was in her 2nd year of Primary education/teacher training when she lost her life to Leukaemia. We created a school forest garden where the imaginary children are planting sunflower seeds, learning about how plants grow and painting pictures of sunflowers.”
The garden was awarded a special award by the BBC judges, ‘The Community Endeavour Award‘ with the judges commenting on how moved they were by the underlying messaging behind the border and loved the garden created by the ladies.
“Sunflowers are a very special flower, not only Beth’s favourite but in 2019 the year after Beth lost her battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia another Leukaemia Mum Rachel grew some sunflowers in her garden, she kept the seeds from those original flowers and gave me a packet to grow the following year.”
From those original flowers, Andrea has grown hundreds of plants each year and continues to collect the seeds to resell for Cure Leukaemia.
The garden at the show was visited by thousands of people who all loved the design, and the focus on children especially the wellies, painted stones and miniature children’s paintings hanging to dry on the silver birch trees. The Sunflowers that Andrea has been growing and nurturing since March came out into flower and proved a great hit with many visitors who could spot our garden from afar by the towering 5-foot flowers.
Famous visitors to the border garden included TV Gardener and presenter Carol Klein who visited the stand and chatted with Andrea, her brother Steve and friend Justine for over 15 minutes, asking about Beth, her story and the sunflowers. Cure Leukaemia Patron Geoff Thomas MBE also popped along to show his support for the team.
Having a border garden at the show provided Cure Leukaemia with an excellent opportunity to create awareness of blood cancers and to listen and talk to many people about their or their family/friends’ experiences with Blood Cancer. We shared sad and happy experiences with many members of the public across the 4-day show and by selling Beth’s sunflower seeds – and other sunflower merchandise – help raise over £1,600 for the charity.