Cally Boutle has been volunteering as a gardener for 35 years, starting a few weeks before The Hospice opened in 1985.

One of only two of the original gardeners left, Cally continues to join the team of volunteers in amongst the shrubbery every week and here she shares her memories…

It’s just so nice to be part of a gardening team. I like gardening. There was an article in the Standard by Margaret Farrow, the lady who organised the original garden team, saying that she needed gardeners and I applied and that’s how I started.

My first day here I spent picking up stones from the front area where the car park is now. It had all just been ploughed up and was full of big stones because I think it had been farmer’s yard. The Young Farmers came along and stone picked as well… that’s all we did really when we were just starting up.

Margaret knew someone from a local nursery and he came and advised her what to plant and we gradually made flowerbeds. We were all amateurs, none of us had trained; we just all liked gardening, that’s all.

I’ve been involved in doing various projects over the years and planting up various areas. My favourite part of the garden is the courtyard because I’ve always been involved in that; I designed it and planted it up. In the very beginning, there used to be a budgie cage in the courtyard before all of the building was done, but they weren’t happy, and eventually it was done away with.

Lots and lots of people donated things to get us started; there was a greenhouse and our gardeners shed, which was moved round the back when the day centre was built.

In the early days, the pond was very silted up with water lilies and with a lack of rain, it didn’t fill up, so the fire service came and pumped it out and filled it up again.

Royalty came and opened various bits and pieces. The Queen Mother came and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was very crowded. It was amazing. I don’t know if she commented on the garden because I was right in the background!

Many things have changed in the garden; new flowerbeds made, old flowerbeds covered in. My late husband mowed the lawns; we had a ride on mower in those days because of course the front car park was just lawn so that needed a huge amount of mowing.

The garden is somewhere for patients and families to go and it’s been laid out so it’s accessible with wheelchairs now, the terrace especially. It wasn’t to start with; it was paved but then the pavers lifted and it all got rather tatty so it was done over with much better access, and of course patient beds can go out there too.

I have on occasion seen people coming out and having a weep in a corner somewhere. I don’t know how the nurses do their job inside. I do admire all the inside staff; they are amazing.

Gardening at The Hospice is just something I like doing. There’s a nice team of lovely, friendly people, it’s really nice. We do our bit and make it look tidy for another week.

Contact Information

To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.


To contact the St Helena Retail team, for enquiries about our shops, donation centre and house clearance service please telephone 01206 890 165.


24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360

SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.

The Hospice

To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU

Telephone: 01206 845 566

Hospice in the Home

You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:

Colchester/Halstead team
Telephone: 01206 845 566

Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222

Day Therapies

You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:

Telephone: 01206 848 163

Fax: 01206 752 245

You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222

Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU

Human Resources

The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Finance Team

To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Volunteer Services Team

The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466

Media Enquiries

For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464

Patient Referrals

If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360

Bereavement Support

To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Learning and Development Centre

The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560

Service User Group

For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397

Facilities Hire Enquiries

01206 851560


To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.

Comment, compliment or complaint

Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566