Flourishing for 40 years – the blossoming of a very special partnership

Press Release 7 May, 2024
  • £19 million raised for people living with cancer 
  • 150 Macmillan nurses and other professionals funded to-date  
  • Celebrating a unique 40-year charitable partnership as part of Gardens and Health Week (4th – 12th May) 

Since its foundation in 1927 the National Garden Scheme has donated over £70 million to support some of the best-loved nursing and health charities in the UK. In that time, one of the most significant beneficiaries has been Macmillan Cancer Support, with 2024 marking 40 consecutive years of donations from the National Garden Scheme. 

The generosity of National Garden Scheme garden owners, volunteers and visitors has contributed over £19 million to support people living with cancer across the UK. This 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.  

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. Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2022 and treated at the NGS Macmillan Unit in Chesterfield. She describes how gardening helped her cope with cancer treatment. 

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 her to open her own garden with husband Adrian in 2023.  

She said: “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.” 

Commenting on the landmark anniversary, George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme 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.”       

Our impact 

Together the charities are inspiring more people to visit gardens to enjoy the sense of wellbeing a beautiful outdoor space can bring. Visiting these exceptional gardens has also helped Macmillan Cancer Support open the doors of the Y Bwthyn NGS Macmillan specialist palliative care unit in Wales, the latest joint project and a direct result of a shared commitment to supporting people when they need help most. 

The National Garden Scheme contributed £2.5 million to the unit, which opened in 2019, making a real difference to the end-of-life experience of cancer patients in the region. 

Commenting on the partnership, 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.” 

For more about the partnership and associated case studies CLICK HERE

Read more about the National Garden Scheme’s commitment to Gardens and Health here


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Our donations in 2023

Donor 1
Donor 2 £450,000
Donor 3 £450,000
Donor 4 £450,000
Donor 5 £425,000
Donor 6 £350,000
Donor 7 £350,000
Donor 8
Donor 9 £100,000
Donor 10 £90,000
Donor 11 £80,000
Donor 12 £281,000
Donor 13 £260,000