Hosting in the Garden

26th July 2019

Last weekend Meningitis Now supporters from around the country gathered at our HQ in Stroud for the 10th anniversary of our Remembrance Garden. One of our new recruits, Senior Partnerships Fundraiser Mark Jefferies, was there

Mark Jefferies Remembrance Garden blog

“I only joined Meningitis Now as a Senior Partnerships Fundraiser in June and last weekend I had my first opportunity to meet some of the families that we support at the 10th anniversary of our Remembrance Garden."

“The garden is a uniquely poignant place, fragrant borders spill and sway as a colourful audience that gently ushers you towards a bench beneath a cherry tree. The flanks of the pathway are lined with oak pegs inscribed with the names of loved ones who have lost their lives to meningitis. They evoke reasons to reflect and stories that make your heart ache, but ultimately they stand in proud defiance of sadness, as a celebration of love, resilience and hope."

“More than one hundred people travelled from all over the UK to join us in Stroud. I confirmed my impactful status amongst my new colleagues by being placed on car park duty, where I adeptly pointed at spaces where our guests had every intention of parking anyway! I saw greater success by greeting our arrivals with a friendly face and making promises of cake and refreshments after their long drive."

“I love meeting new people; it's why I work in the Partnerships team. I am also more than aware of how easily I waffle on. It is important for me to feel like I’m putting people at ease, even if it’s by uniting them in thinking "Where did they get this guy from?"!"

Inspirational young people

“The anniversary was marked by a large, bunting clad marquee, which housed an abundant spread of cake, sandwiches, drinks and treats. Our guests chatted with one another, shared their stories and each took a private moment to find their treasured peg."

“Also in attendance were a number of inspirational young people, which included Jacob Gray, Louise Greer and Lauren and Aaron Booth who modelled for the four wooden sculptures that were originally designed for our Chelsea Flower Garden Show in 2016 and have now found a permanent residence in the Remembrance Garden. The sculptures acknowledge those who have survived meningitis as well as portraying a reminder of its devastating impact. Aaron Booth kindly modelled in order to represent Gareth Rowlands, who sadly lost his life to the disease at the age of 16."

“The occasion, just like the garden itself, was a constellation of grief, optimism and every emotion in between, but what was perhaps most striking was the feeling that this was a safe and secure place in which people could talk openly about their lives. I spoke to mums, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunties and uncles who were so willing to talk about their loved ones, or about how they were feeling or who simply conveyed a resolute conviction to fundraise and raise awareness."

Infinitely compassionate

“I naturally spent the rest of the weekend thinking about the things I had said. I thought of infinitely better answers than the ones I had offered. As a consolation, I reminded myself of a parent’s remark right at the end of proceedings: that he had taken such reassurance from the ‘bubble’ that the event had created, but beyond the gates of our HQ lay the awkwardly well meaning, ‘otherly’ reality of the world."

“The 10th Anniversary of the Remembrance Garden demonstrated Meningitis Now and our resolutely professional, infinitely compassionate family at its very best. I’m proud to have joined the team as a fundraiser, utilising my ability to chat, charm, bewilder and occasionally organise parking - all in the name of a quite remarkable cause." 

“What’s more, far exceeding my expectations, I can truly say that I feel part of something extraordinary.”

Read more about our Remembrance Garden.

Visit our online virtual garden and support our work.

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