Chelsea Flower Show Garden to come to EMH

Warm welcome at Earl Mountbatten for Chelsea Garden design team

Earl Mountbatten Hospice today welcomed the design team behind one of the award-winning gardens from this years’ Chelsea Flower Show, which is being relocated to EMH later this year.

As announced in May, The Royal Bank of Canada Garden, which was designed by well-known garden designer and Gardeners Question Time panellist Matthew Wilson, will be moved to the Hospice over the coming months thanks to the charity Greenfingers, of which Matthew is Chairman.

Greenfingers is a small national charity dedicated to supporting the children who spend time in hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces for them to relax in and enjoy.

Earl Mountbatten was chosen as the proud recipient of the garden in recognition of its work developing services for children and their families on the Island. Sophie Rolf’s parents, Gemma Blamire and Aaron Rolf, have been instrumental in explaining first-hand how valuable the services are at the Hospice, and how Sophie’s legacy continues to help parents and children at a devastating time in their lives.

Matthew Wilson said: “I’m thrilled to be here on the Island today to get the ball rolling on the relocation of my Chelsea Flower Show garden.  It means a huge amount to me personally that this garden is relocating to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice; the garden itself was a labour of love and through my work at Greenfingers providing beautiful outdoor spaces for those who spend time in hospices is very close to my heart. It has been great to be here today, meeting the team and hearing more about Sophie’s story, and I can’t wait to see the finished garden in all it’s glory in this fantastic location.” Hospice Chief executive Nigel Hartley, said everyone at EMH felt very privileged to be part of such an exciting project.

“It’s a real honour to be part of this and we know the garden will bring so much joy to everyone at Earl Mountbatten and indeed the wider community. It has been a pleasure to welcome Matthew and the team from Greenfingers to the Hospice today, and particularly to introduce them to Gemma and Aaron whose support for this project has been instrumental from day one.”

Newport Chelsea Flower Show garden being moved to the John Chiverton Centre. From left, Gemma Blamire with Chair of Trustees EMH Sara Weech, Director of Greenfingers Charity Deborah Skillicorn, EMH CEO Nigel Hartley, Aaron Rolf, Landscape Designer at Clifton Nurserys Rebecca Zanelli and MD of Clifton Nurserys and Chair of Greenfingers Charity Matthew Wilson.

Chelsea Flower Show garden being moved to the John Chiverton Centre.
From left, Gemma Blamire with Chair of Trustees EMH Sara Weech, Director of Greenfingers Charity Deborah Skillicorn, EMH CEO Nigel Hartley, Aaron Rolf, Landscape Designer at Clifton Nurserys Rebecca Zanelli and MD of Clifton Nurserys and Chair of Greenfingers Charity Matthew Wilson.

Our Story

The Sophie Rolf Trust – Registered Charity 1156155

Sophie Rolf was a beautiful, happy, larger than life little girl. She enjoyed doing all things little girls love, especially her swimming and dance classes.

Sophie started school in September2011, joining her big brother Jack at St Saviours Primary School in Totland on the Isle of Wight.

During May 2012 we noticed a tremor in Sophie’s left arm and, after numerous hospital visits and finally an MRI scan in June, we received the terrible news that no parent wants to hear – Sophie had a ‘Supratentorial high grade Glioma, bilateral thalamic tumour’.

This is an aggressive brain tumour located in a very awkward part of the brain. We were told that the tumour was inoperable and the prognosis poor. Sophie faced things that no child or adult should have to go through. Neuro surgery to fit shunts, central line surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, a trial drug, numerous MRI & CT scans, homeopathic drugs and other tests were all met with determination, strength, courage and most of all always a smile.

She made us so proud to call her our daughter. As a family we never gave up hope and actively pursued other medical opinions from Europe and the rest of the world – however each reply reinforced the original diagnosis.

Sadly Sophie lost her fight in November 2013 at home alongside her family that adored her so much. She didn’t suffer and as always, she decided when the time was right.

‘KissyPuppy’ was originally set up to enable friends and family to fund raise for Sophie and initially was used to support Sophie’s journey through this including travelling to and from appointments on the mainland, any equipment needed and creating magical experiences and memories.

We chose the name ‘KissyPuppy’ as this was a word Sophie used for a very special sort of cuddle and kiss reserved only for her big brother Jack.

What this devastating process highlighted to us as a family was the limited healthcare options available for children with life shortening conditions on the Isle of Wight.

There is no specialist children’s hospice on the Isle of Wight. Families are offered the option of travelling to Winchester for respite or end of life care, which is a three hour journey each way, relying on Ferries. Travelling to the mainland at the point when Sophie was very poorly is something we did not want to be thinking about.

The Earl Mountbatten Hospice provides comprehensive end-of-life healthcare for the Isle of Wight community. They support and care for adults living with and dying from a life-shortening illness and, working in partnership with the local NHS, they are extending these services to children.

Sophie said early on in her treatment that she wanted to help other children as they have helped her………so that is what we have pledged to do. We have joined forces with the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and the local NHS to help support and develop services on the Island for children and young people, and their families, with life shortening conditions.

Over a period of time a range of services will be developed offering flexible, individualised care and support, in the place of choice, built around the unique needs of each family.

Services will be coordinated centrally, and delivered by a multi-professional team, working together with each family to support their wishes and care choices. Sophie’s first project was to provide an area within the existing hospice building that will be suitable for use by children and their families.

The area was to provide the equipment needed to fulfil the medical requirements of the individual whilst at the same time recognise the needs of the family as a whole.

From day one Sophie was an inspiration to all. She never once complained or grumbled about what she was going through. She greeted each and every day with a smile and her attitude and spirit made her fundraising such a success that within a few months she had raised the £10,000 target set for the first project.

At the beginning of November 2013 Sophie, just a few weeks before she passed away, opened the children’s rooms at Earl Mountbatten Hospice, a massive achievement of which we are so proud of her for. Sophie had already started on her next project, a Playground, within the grounds of the Hospice.

In her short life, Sophie has changed Children’s services here on the Island. We, as Sophie’s family, recognise there is so much more to be done. Kissypuppy – ‘The Sophie Rolf Trust’ is now a registered charity.

We are committed to helping the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, local NHS and other interested parties in the continued development of services for children and their families with life shortening illnesses on the Isle of Wight.

We hope we can continue Sophie’s good work and make a legacy she would be proud of.