National Brain Appeal scoops award at Chelsea Flower Show
The National Brain Appeal has won a series of awards at the Chelsea Flower Show after teaming up with up with award-winning landscape designer Charlie Hawkes.
The charity “Rare Space” garden scooped a Gold medal, the Best Sanctuary Garden award and the Best Construction Award at the event this week.
The garden has been designed to create a space that can be enjoyed by people living with rare forms of dementia, particularly visual and spacial forms of the disease.
After the show it will be permanently relocated to the new Rare Dementia Support Centre when it opens in 2024/25.Before this, it will be temporarily relocated to Exbury Gardens in Hampshire.
Actor Stephen Graham, an ambassador for the National Brain Appeal, visited the garden on Monday. He has supported the charity since playing Tony, a middle-aged man with young-onset Alzheimer’s, in the award-winning Channel 4 drama Help.
The National Brain Appeal funds pioneering research, treatments and facilities at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the UCL Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, London.
Designer Charlie Hawkes showed Graham around the garden on Monday and pointed out key features that make it accessible for people with rare dementias, particularly those with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), where people have difficulties seeing what and where things are.
Graham said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to spend time on The National Brain Appeal’s ‘Rare Space’ garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and to understand how you can design and use certain types of plants, trees and flowers to make it somewhere that people with rare dementias can enjoy and feel safe.
“When I was researching young-onset Alzheimer’s for my character Tony in the Channel 4 drama Help, I was privileged to work with Rare Dementia Support, funded by The National Brain Appeal.
“I saw first-hand, what an absolute lifeline these support groups are for people and their loved ones affected by rare dementias. These are often people with jobs and young families and their worlds are turned upside-down. I found the experience of talking to them really humbling.”
Sebastian Crutch, UCL professor of neuropsychology and clinical lead for Rare Dementia Support, said: “People associate dementia with old age and memory issues. It will come as a surprise to some that there are rare forms of dementia that affect vision, language, movement and behaviour.
“Also, that people can be much younger when they start to experience symptoms, typically when they are in the 40s, 50s and 60s, when they are still working and have family commitments.”
He added: “The National Brain Appeal’s ‘Rare Space’ Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of these rare dementias and we are very grateful to Project Giving Back for making it possible.”