BEAUTIFUL gardens in Swinhay have been opened to the public to help fundraise for the hospice movement after the landowner lost his daughter to cancer.

Around 320 people visited the five-acre gardens which Richard Meyer has created over a 40-year-period and at considerable expense.

The woodland gardens include beautiful ponds, scenic pathways lined by hedgerows and plants from around the world as well as various walled gardens and sculptures.

Mr Meyer decide to open the gardens after his daughter Katherine died of cancer at the age of 41, in March 2012.

In her last days she was looked after by St Peter’s Hospice which she described as like living in a five-star hotel so Mr Meyer wanted to give something back.

The money raised, believed to be many thousands through entrance fees and private donations, will go to Katherine’s Cock A Doodle Do Trust, which supports various hospice charities.

While Mr Meyer did not wish to give the full amount raised, he said people had been much more generous than he had expected at the event at Katharine’s Farm.

“It went extremely well, People were extremely generous with their donations,” he said.

“There was enormous enthusiasm for the gardens to my surprise and people wanting to know when they could come back again.”

Mr Meyer received donations from across the country so hopes to send cheques back to the various hospices near those who donated.

St Peter’s Hospice spokesman John Flanagan said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Richard Meyer for the amazing handwork he has put in to open the gardens for St Peter’s Hospice and thank him for his continued support and for raising such a significant amount of money for patient care.”

Next year a replica of Prince Charles’ chicken house is to be built at the site after receiving permission to do so from the Prince of Wales himself.

Mr Meyer wrote to Highgrove House explaining his wish to build the chicken house within his garden in memory to his daughter who was a big fan of chickens.

Having received the Prince’s blessing, the house is set to be built early next spring and is to be open to the public for special viewings.

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