Sandra’s 25 years at the ‘best office’ in Warwick

Sandra Jebb celebrated 25 years as the gardener at the Lord Leycester Hospital gardens this week. Photo submitted.
Sandra Jebb celebrated 25 years as the gardener at the Lord Leycester Hospital gardens this week. Photo submitted.

A gardener at a 500-year-old garden in Warwick is celebrating 25 years in the role.

Sandra Jebb first joined the team at the Lord Leycester Hospital on October 3 1993. This week she marked her 25th anniversary and has looked back on her time at the garden.

Sandra Jebb next to the new greenhouse. Photo supplied.

Sandra Jebb next to the new greenhouse. Photo supplied.

The 56-year-old said: “When I first started the garden hadn’t been open to the public since 1901 as it had become more of a family garden so it wasn’t like it is today. There was quite a lot of work to do when I started.

“Initially there were four of us that worked in the garden but now I am the main gardener but we do have regular volunteers. Christine Cross comes in once a week and we have had a team of volunteers from National Grid come in.”

Before joining the Lord Leycester Hospital, Sandra was a nurse. She said: “When I was younger I did want to be a nurse and I went on to do that and then decided to be a gardener. I have always been in the garden. Even when I was little my dad allowed us to dig up a bit of the lawn and plant what we wanted.”

Reflecting on her job, she said: “I live in one of the cottages attached to the hospital and it is fantastic to keep restoring the hospital. I am so proud of the work that happens here. It is important to keep helping as so much of our history is just going so it is important to keep for the next generations.

“At the garden we have been collecting herbs throughout the centuries – some dating back to Victorian times. What we are trying to do is have plaques or signs to say what they are and what their usage was at that time.

“I work alongside the Master of the Lord Leycester, Heidi Meyer, and we work out between us what should be done.

“One of my favourite 
moments was when I was presented to the Queen when she came and formally opened the garden on November 8, 1996. It was very nerve wracking but she was lovely.”

Over the years Sandra has taken on a few projects and last year one of them was to help raise money to replace the Victorian greenhouse. Over summer the greenhouse was replaced.

Sandra said: “Over the years the greenhouse became unsafe and when it rained it was like having an indoor water feature. We have now had a like for like replacement put in. Woodpecker Ltd supplied the greenhouse and Warwick Glass sponsored the glass.

“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved with getting the new greenhouse and to everyone who helped raise the money for it. Beforehand we couldn’t have members of the public in the area but now we can.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has supported the garden over the 25 years.”

After reaching the milestone Sandra still has a passion for her work. She said: “It is quite a challenging job but it is enjoyable here. I am fortunate to be working outside in the fresh air. I have got the best office that anybody could ask for. I would like to be here as long as I possibly can.”

Heidi Meyer, Master at the Lord Leycester Hospital, said: “Sandra has a wonderful talent - gardening - and it has brought so much joy to many of our Warwick townsfolk as they visit the beautiful 500-year-old Lord Leycester gardens in the centre of town that Sandra has tended with so much care for all these years.”

The Restoration projects at the Lord Leycester Hospital

The Lord Leycester Hospital has been at the centre of Warwick town’s civic life for 700 years.

For more than 400 years the hospital, which is also a charity, has supported wounded and needy ex-servicemen.

However, its physical fabric, which includes the remaining part of the town wall, is deteriorating significantly.

The team behind the hospital is aiming to raise £4 million by 2021, which is the hospital’s 450th anniversary.

The team have also sent a request to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding to help with the 
restoration.

A decision on whether they will be successful or not is expected in December 2018.

The fundraising committee at the hospital, which is chaired by Joe Greenwell, are working on raising £1 million as match funding.

Anyone interested in supporting the Lord Leycester Hospital can help by attending events held there or by becoming a ‘Friend of the Lord Leycester’ which costs £25 for a year membership.

For more information call 01926 491422 or email info@lordleycester.com