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Bury St Edmunds gardener Harry Tarpley gives new lease of life to West Suffolk Hospital garden gnomes as 'thank you' to NHS




A young Bury St Edmunds gardener who nearly died when he was just a baby has found a special way to say thank you to the NHS.

Harry Tarpley, who has autism and sensory issues, has spent the last two weeks giving much-needed makeovers to eight garden gnomes, which he spotted in the courtyard at West Suffolk Hospital.

Debbie, Harry's mum, said: "He saw them and said he'd like to take them home to paint them and give them some TLC.

Harry spent two weeks painting the eight gnomes at his Bury St Edmunds home Picture: My WiSH Charity
Harry spent two weeks painting the eight gnomes at his Bury St Edmunds home Picture: My WiSH Charity

"I got in touch with the hospital and found out the gnomes belonged to the My WiSH Charity and they said they'd love for Harry to paint them."

Harry has also written a story for the hospital to tell of how the gnomes went on holiday to his house and came back to the garden feeling refreshed and well-rested.

"He told the story of how he'd ended up looking after the gnomes and what they had done together," said Debbie.

Before: Harry thought the gnomes needed sprucing up. Picture: My WiSH Charity
Before: Harry thought the gnomes needed sprucing up. Picture: My WiSH Charity

"We did also put a sign up in the garden saying they had gone on holiday and asked people not to tell Boris Johnson."

Debbie added that the nine year old had been particularly keen to take on this project as a way of giving back to the NHS, which saved his life when he was just six months old.

"When Harry was a baby, he was taken to hospital because he was lifeless," she said.

"He had to have a lumbar puncture, which showed that he had sepsis. He was a very poorly little boy and he nearly died.

And after: Harry gave the gnomes a much-needed makeover. Picture: My WiSH Charity
And after: Harry gave the gnomes a much-needed makeover. Picture: My WiSH Charity

"The NHS looked after him for weeks and he is now so excited to be able to do this to say thank you to them for saving him."

This isn't the first time Harry has done community work and in 2019, was awarded the Young Citizen of the Year and Green Fingers awards for his gardening work.

"Harry likes to do something good for the community," said Debbie.

The sign put up in the hospital garden
The sign put up in the hospital garden

"It's all about making people smile and making them feel happy. That's what he hopes the gnomes will do for people at the hospital.

"He just wants people to sit down, look at the gnomes, and smile."

Harry's mum said he wanted to make people smile
Harry's mum said he wanted to make people smile

Debbie added that it was a good distraction for the schoolboy, who in the last year has lost five family members - three of whom died after contracting Covid-19.

"He's done such a good job of handling it all," said Debbie.

"It's been a really hard year for him, and he hasn't been able to see his grandparents since last February either.

"It puts a smile on his face as well as everyone else's which is lovely."

The gnomes have now returned from their 'holiday', after they were picked up by Sally Daniels, My WiSH Charity's fund-raising manager, today.

“Harry has done a fantastic job of brightening up the gnomes," said Sally.

"They look amazing back in their garden at the hospital and we can’t thank him enough for all his hard work."

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Bury St Edmunds