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Downton Abbey actors Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton open Beckton hospice’s new sensory garden

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:18 16 September 2019

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton at Richard House Children's Hospice. Picture: Hope Lanek

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton at Richard House Children's Hospice. Picture: Hope Lanek

Hope Lanek

Downton Abbey star Jim Carter joined his wife and fellow actor Imelda Staunton in opening a hospice’s new sensory garden.

View from the apple chair, gifted from the Chelsea Flower Show 2019. Picture: Paul WebbView from the apple chair, gifted from the Chelsea Flower Show 2019. Picture: Paul Webb

The 2.7 acre site at Richard House Children's Hospice has been transformed into a place for seriously ill children and their families to explore nature in a safe environment.

The work was carried out thanks to the support of garden charity Greenfingers, Capsicum Re and King Landscapes, and designers Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer.

Some elements were gifted from Kate Gould's award winning garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

And the actors - both patrons of the Beckton hospice - were both pleased with how the garden looked.

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton with Richard House head of fundraising Clare Roche, chief executive Chris Baker and founder Anthea Hare. Picture: Hope LanekJim Carter and Imelda Staunton with Richard House head of fundraising Clare Roche, chief executive Chris Baker and founder Anthea Hare. Picture: Hope Lanek

Jim, who plays butler Mr Carson in the hit ITV series, said: "The scale of the garden is incredible and you can tell it is designed with children in mind.

"Siblings are able to run through the garden exploring and it is wheelchair friendly which is even better.

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"The signposts mapping out the mountains and waterfall make it all the more magical.

The water feature. Picture:  Paul WebbThe water feature. Picture: Paul Webb

"My wife and I have a child and I can only imagine how much harder it would be for families with life-limited children."

Imelda, whose roles have included Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter franchise and who plays Maud Bagshaw in the new Downton movie, added: "The garden clearly offers respite in its design. You can lose yourself amongst the trees, my favourite features of the woodland.

"It is a space for the whole family in which siblings can also enjoy exploring whilst parents and carers can have some much needed me time."

Richard House chief executive Chris Baker said: "The new garden is simply wonderful.

"We couldn't provide such a magical space without the continued support and generosity of incredible Richard House friends.

"We are delighted to provide a sanctuary where our children and families can create lasting memories.

"They can explore nature in such an uplifting space in which the variety of sensory elements offer life-limited children a connection to the world around them.

"The Richard House family are forever grateful for the transformation of our woodlands, it means the world to us all."


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