NGS & Macmillan: 40th anniversary of a very special partnership

As part of Gardens and Health Week, the National Garden Scheme is celebrating a unique, 40-year charitable partnership with one of the most significant beneficiaries, Macmillan Cancer Support.

NGS Signage

Since its foundation in 1927 the National Garden Scheme (NGS) has donated over £70 million to support some of the best-loved nursing and health charities in the UK. 2024, marks 40 consecutive years of support from the NGS for one of its most significant beneficiaries, Macmillan Cancer Support.

The generosity of NGS owners, volunteers and visitors has contributed over £19 million to support people living with cancer across the UK. The annual donations has funded over 150 Macmillan nurses, as well as making a major contribution to the construction of three brand new cancer centres: the NGS Macmillan Wellbeing Centre in Bristol, the NGS Macmillan Unit in Chesterfield and the Y Bwthyn NGS Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Unit in South Wales. The National Garden Scheme contributed £2.5 million to the palliative care unit in South Wales, which opened in 2019 and is making a real difference to the end-of-life experience of cancer patients in the region.

Gemma Peters, Chief Executive Officer at Macmillan said: “The National Garden Scheme is our longest standing partner and has had an incredible impact over the last 40 years. It’s thanks to the generosity of the 3,500 garden openers, county organisers, staff and trustees that Macmillan is able to continue doing whatever it takes for people living with cancer. Our partnership together champions the physical and mental health benefits of gardening, which we know can be valuable and comforting for people living with cancer.”

Maggie Porteous, 59 from Chinley in Derbyshire is one of the many people who have benefitted from the National Garden Scheme’s partnership with Macmillan. Diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2022, Porteous was treated at the NGS Macmillan Unit in Chesterfield. She said: “My garden became even more important to me after my diagnosis of breast cancer. As a cancer patient you feel that you are on a rollercoaster, with very little control as you move through the process of surgery and then treatment. It’s very easy to become hyper focused on cancer, and to spend too much time thinking “what if…” in a very negative way. Spending time in the garden definitely helps me. And when I am feeling low or worried, being out in the fresh air in the garden immediately lifts my mood.”

The experience inspired Porteous to open her own garden with husband Adrian in 2023. “I’ve known the National Garden Scheme for years, have visited numerous gardens, and always thought that I would open my garden “when I grow up”. I hadn’t really registered that the building I was being treated in had been part funded by the National Garden Scheme until I was sitting there, waiting for my results. I took this as a sign that now was the time to open my garden to raise much needed funds for charity, including for Macmillan” she added.

Commenting on the landmark anniversary, George Plumptre, NGS Chief Executive said: “There are few charity partnerships in the UK that can boast such longevity or impact in the nursing sector. We are immensely proud of all that we have helped Macmillan Cancer Support achieve over the last 40 years both in terms of capital build projects and vital nursing services and look forward to continuing our remarkable partnership and helping them to support those living with cancer.”

NGS Gardens and Health Week runs from the 4th-12th May – for more information see the NGS Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Health.