Lawson Memorial Hospital case study

Lawson Memorial Hospital, Sutherland


The Golspie Greenspace Project at the Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie is a partnership project led by the community and involving statutory bodies with an interest in delivering health benefits via the natural environment. A large water-logged lawn area and a helicopter landing site has been transformed into an accessible network of walking paths, with several rest areas, a variety of new tree and shrub planting and new pedestrian access to the site.

Project description

Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie was chosen to pilot a project creating health benefits by improving the environment around healthcare facilities. Extensive engagement with the local community identified the desire for safe access, all abilities paths, seating and shelter, and especially trees, flowers and wildlife. The design has been subject to further consultation, resulting in a high level of community ownership of the gardens.

The empty expanse of mown grass in front of the hospital has been reclaimed for use with the introduction of inviting paths, seats and planting. There are also raised planting beds for fruit and vegetables, a sensory garden and a medicinal and culinary garden. There have also been improvements to the small woodland area at the back of the site, which is ideal for quiet reflection.

Numerous native trees and shrubs have been planted around the site, including Rowan, Hazel, Birch, Cherry, Oak, Willow, Hawthorn, Holly, Elder and a range of Heathers. Fruit trees and fruit bushes also feature, along with a wide range of flowering and scented herbs and a rose garden.

Construction of this first phase of the project was completed towards the end of the summer 2011, and thanks to the mild winter that followed, has already seen significant and regular use. Reaction from patients, staff and visitors has been very positive.

The steering group comprised of representatives of The Sutherland Partnership, The League of Friends at the Lawson Memorial Hospital, The Friends of the Cambusavie Unit, Golspie Community Council and Sutherland’s two Community Voluntary Service organisations, in addition to NHS Highland, Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and The Highland Council.

It has been funded by Highland LEADER, SNH, Kilbraur Wind Farm Benevolent Trust, FCS, Sutherland Partnership, Highland Council Sutherland Wards’ Discretionary Budgets and Golspie Community Council.

Key achievement

A strong partnership was formed to run the project, supported by a range of funders. The consultation process was particularly thorough, creating a garden which will really be treasured by the community.

What are the health benefits?

Staff view:

“Many of us in the staff team weren’t sure at the start, a bit sceptical when we heard of the plans, but we’ve been surprised: the paths are well-used by patients and staff, and especially visitors. They take the patients out for walks, or push them round in wheelchairs. It’s so much better than just being stuck inside in their rooms. Being out is an important part of their rehab as well, and it’s safer than going on the road.” Sister in rehab unit

Patients' views:

“It’s excellent. It’s just lovely it being there.”

“It’s nice to come here and get the fresh air.”


Lorraine Coe, Clinical Nurse Manager. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Case study: Lawson Memorial Hospital Greenspace

Picture credits: NHS Highland