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Macmillan Southport Flower Show garden tells tale of life after cancer diagnosis

A garden telling the tale of life after a cancer diagnosis will be exhibited at this year’s Southport Flower Show on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Garden designer, Jason O’Donnell, was moved to create the garden for Macmillan after his father passed away from lung cancer last December, just eight months after receiving his diagnosis.

The garden celebrates the work of Macmillan and is a reminder of how important gifts left in wills are to the charity, which received over £84m in legacy donations last year.

The garden’s standout feature, a giant storybook with pages made up of dry stone walls, links back to Southport’s 2018 ‘Once upon a time’ theme. Each wall of Jason’s book symbolises a chapter in a cancer patient’s journey, starting with the initial moment of diagnosis.

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis can feel like hitting a brick wall,” said Jason. “Through my garden, I wanted to show how Macmillan Cancer Support is on hand to help you break down those walls. They offer support to people affected by cancer, helping them to cope with the initial shock of diagnosis and making challenges feel more manageable.”

Each subsequent wall of Jason’s storybook decreases in volume by roughly a third. This figure was chosen to highlight the importance of legacy gifts to Macmillan Cancer Support, which receives almost a third of its funding through gifts left in wills.

Also included in the garden are two ‘rhythm lines’, which mimic heart beats and symbolise the energy required to overcome the challenges linked to a cancer diagnosis.

“I wanted the rhythm lines to represent life itself,” said Jason. “The two lines run parallel to each other, echoing the way in which Macmillan Cancer Support is on your side from the very moment of diagnosis.”

Messages from previous Macmillan donors will be etched onto the surface of the rhythm lines to demonstrate how donations leave a legacy for people affected by cancer.

The final area of the garden is a seated section where visitors can reflect upon their own life story. The circular nature of this area represents a clock – a reminder of how the number of people living with cancer in the UK is set to increase from the current 2.5 million to 4 million by 2030.

“Whilst there are many serious themes present throughout the garden, the overall message is a positive one,” said Jason. “I wanted to show how even in your final days you can create wonderful memories and leave a legacy to be cherished.”

Ruthie Coverdale, Macmillan Cancer Support senior legacy promotions manager said: “We have been so touched by Jason’s story. We hope his beautiful garden inspires visitors to think about leaving a legacy in their will so that we can continue to provide practical, emotional and personal support to the 2.5 million people in the UK who are currently living with cancer.”

Supporting the assembly of the garden is Chester based, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) award-winning horticulture and landscaping specialists Landstruction (

For more information on how you can leave a legacy for Macmillan Cancer Support visit:

Southport is the UK’s largest independent flower show, running from the 16 – 19 August. Tickets can be purchased through

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