Published: May 5, 2020 | Updated: May 5, 2020

Biz News round-up: Stewarts Garden Centres, Lewis-Manning Hospice Care, Sovereign Housing Association and Carer Support Dorset

A selection of the plants donated by Stewarts Garden Centres to Lewis-Manning Hospice Care patients.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Stewarts donates plants for Lewis-Manning Hospice Care patients

Stewarts Garden Centres has donated around 50 annual plants to Lewis-Manning Hospice Care patients.

The plants will be distributed safely during home visits.

Ruth Burnhill, Lewis-Manning Hospice Care’s Director of Clinical Services, said: “We are delighted to accept this offer.

“Patients will be able to enjoy a sense of wellbeing which comes when they can see these spring blossoms beginning to flower.

“These beautiful plants will certainly brighten up our patient’s day, so thank you so much Stewarts Garden Centre for your incredibly generous donation, it will mean a lot to our high risk patients.”

Paul Hilliam, Centre Manager at Stewarts Garden Centre in Christchurch, underwent surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer in 2013.

He said: “Due to this unprecedented situation we have had to make the difficult decision to close our centres.

“However we are running a new online service for certain goods such as plant bundles, compost, furniture and barbecues.

“The Stewarts team very much look forward to reopening.”

Martin Stewart added, “Lewis-Manning Hospice Care provides incredible support for patients throughout Dorset.

“These plants flower repeatedly making a cheery addition to any garden or small space for patients to enjoy.”


Sovereign launches photography competition to lift spirits

Sovereign Housing Association has launched a photography competition to try and lift people’s spirits during the coronavirus lockdown.

With the theme ‘Heart of my World’, the competition aims to inspire people to have fun by sharing their creativity through the medium of photography.

There are three age categories and a prize of £150 in ‘Love to Shop’ vouchers for three winners and £50 in the same vouchers for three runners up.

The competition is open to anyone who lives within three miles of a Sovereign community, with the exception of Sovereign employees.

The association has almost 60,000 homes across the south of England including Blandford and Christchurch in Dorset.

Three categories will be judged, with the categories Junior: up to 18 years old, Intermediate: 19 – 30 years old and Senior: over 31 years.

Diane Humphries, Community Development Officer for Sovereign, who came up with the competition idea, said: “We’re really hoping that this competition will give people a little boost and perhaps help them to form a connection with Sovereign and their wider community even though they can’t physically be close to one another.

“We’re asking people to produce one digital photograph based upon the theme, ‘Heart of my World’ in colour or black and white, interpreted however they like, with hopefully a bit of fun involved.

“Images might be celebrating the wildlife in a garden, recreating a great work of art, or simply capturing everyday life at home with the family.”

Entries should be submitted by email to by Monday June 1, and full rules are available.

Winners will be announced on Monday June 22.


Virtual cafes to be run for unpaid carers in bid to reduce loneliness

Carer Support Dorset is to run two virtual cafes for unpaid carers across Dorset in a bid to reduce loneliness.

The first of the free cafes will be on Wednesday May 13 from 2pm-3pm and the second, Wednesday May 20, 2pm-3pm.

According to a recent survey by Carers UK, 69 per cent of unpaid carers are providing more help with emotional support, motivation or checking in on the person they care for due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Anna Elston, Manager of Carer Support Dorset, said: “Unpaid carers are under huge pressure in normal circumstances and even more so in the unprecedented times of Covid-19.

“Carers are feeling increasingly isolated and we hope that by offering these two virtual cafes we will give our carers an opportunity to talk in an informal environment with people in similar situations to them.”

To join either of the virtual cafes, carers should be registered with Carer Support Dorset as an unpaid carer.

To register visit or call 0800 368 8349.

Carers can then book their free virtual cafe place by contacting