A QUIET oasis of calm away from the clinical starkness of a hospital has been created for cancer patients.

The new Garden of Reflection at Southend Hospital has been funded by the charity United Against Cancer, set up by hairdresser Rosemary Slade following her treatment for breast cancer in 2004.

The garden outside the chemotherapy unit will provide an escape for cancer patients and their families.

Mrs Slade, a mother of two from Leigh, underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and was treated with the drug Herceptin following surgery.

She said: “The staff and the service I received were wonderful and I decided I had to do something about it.”

She wanted to enter the sponsored Moonwalk event in London that year butmissed it so instead opted to stage her own event and organised a ‘wig walk’.

It attracted 150 walkers in colourful, zany wigs and raised a phenomenal £10,000. S

ince then, her charity has gone from strength to strength and raised a total of £70,000 with support from family, friends and Westcliff High School for Boys.

Leigh gardener Simon Holmes, of SJ Holmes, has given his own time to landscape and plant the garden which features shrubs, trees, a pagoda and a reflective commemorative sign.

The £19,000 garden will be officially opened later this month by hospital chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell.

Rosemary, who also volunteers at the hospital for Breast Cancer Care’s HeadStrong service to support women who lose their hair through cancer treatment, said: “It has been a long time in the planning and I am absolutely thrilled it has got to this stage. Simon has been a rock throughout it all.

“I had my treatment before the new centre was opened and found the room quite claustrophobic.

“It would have been nice to be able to get out in the fresh air and have somewhere quiet to reflect.

“I wanted to do something purely for the patients to help make their treatment less traumatic – I did not want the money to be swallowed up on equipment."