Mary Berry, Queen of Cakes, hosting The Great British Garden Party

Beautiful gardens, tea and cake, and a few pounds raised for charity at the same time — what could be more British? James Fisher reports.

The Great British Garden Party will begin next week and everyone’s invited, says the nation’s ‘Queen of Cakes’ Mary Berry. The fundraising event, organised by the National Garden Scheme (NGS), will begin its fourth edition on Saturday, with the aim of encouraging people to get together, celebrate the nation’s love of gardens and help raise vital money for the charity’s initiatives.

‘As president of the wonderful National Garden Scheme, I am delighted to invite you to join me in gathering friends, family and colleagues for a Great British Garden Party,’ says Dame Mary (above). ‘We’re inviting everyone to get together in their garden, green space or office and to join in the fundraising for the vital nursing and health charities supported by the NGS; charities that so many of us, our family and friends often rely on in times of need.’

The NGS has long been a supporter of some of the UK’s most important nursing and health charities, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carers Trust, Parkinson’s UK and the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI). Only last week, the NGS announced five new gardens and health projects that will take place in conjunction with the QNI in 2023, part of the NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship programme that was begun in 2021.

Credit: NGS / Sussie Bell / Sarah Prall

The five projects are all led by nurses working in community settings and seek to improve the health of local people; each one will benefit from up to £5,000 in funding, as well as a year-long professional development programme for the nurses, run by the QNI. The Elsie Wagg Scholarship programme is named after Elsie Wagg, the QNI council member who had the idea to establish the NGS in 1927.

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‘We are delighted to be announcing five new gardens and health projects as part of the NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship programme,’ says NGS CEO George Plumptre.

‘Recent evidence has demonstrated the widespread benefits that gardens offer to a wide range of physical and mental-health conditions and from their initial presentations I know that these will be really rewarding projects. The programme is an increasingly important exemplar of the synergy between our major nursing beneficiaries and our gardens and health programme.’

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