The Patient Participation Group at Cerne Abbas Surgery have organised the refurbishment of an outdoor seating area as a way of saying thank you to staff for their efforts during the Covid pandemic.

The volunteers raised a total of nearly £2,000 in sponsorship together with an equal amount of corporate support and discounted products to get the area improved. Staff at the practice can now enjoy a sheltered garden area which has raised beds, parasol, a new wooden seating area and a planting scheme designed by Poundbury Garden Centre. The area has been named ‘Craig’s Courtyard’ in memory of Cerne Abbas GP Dr Craig Wakeham.

Stuart Bexon, a leading member of the Cerne Abbas Patient Participation Group has been leading on this transformation project. He said: “I am delighted with everyone’s generosity. People have been jumping on board to help build a peaceful garden to thank the hard-working staff during such a difficult time.  We had local people, as well as companies, coming forward with donations or discounts for the project. We are grateful and pleased with the outcome.

“This garden is an ongoing project which we hope will flourish and grow more beautiful each year.  We have had some engraved brass commemorative plates donated to mark it as a memorial. We hope that staff can enjoy this area for years to come.”

Ryan Burden, Cerne Abbas Surgery assistant practice manager said “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people and the community. It is great that the hard work of the staff has been recognised and acknowledged in this way.

“We now have a relaxing, peaceful place to enjoy breaks, which is important to keep up staff morale during challenging times. We have always worked closely with our Patient Participation Group to make our practice the best it can be, and we will continue to do so.”

Patient Participation Groups are run by volunteers and work alongside practice teams within GP surgeries. As well as providing feedback to practices on the services it provides and helping get information out to the wider patient population, groups work on projects which bring health and wellbeing benefits to their fellow patients.

You can get involved in your local group by talking to your practice reception team or contact us at communication@nhsdorset.nhs.uk.