People are being encouraged to virtually explore the secrets of some of Bexley and Greenwich's beautiful residential gardens in a project run by the local community hospice to raise funds in the face of a massive shortfall.

Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice's 'Virtual Open Gardens' project has been backed by two local MPs, slotting in to the replace the usual Open Gardens Festival due to Covid-19.

The event typically allows hospice supporters and garden lovers to make their way around Greenwich and Bexley's hidden gardens, but now visitors can instead enjoy the sights from the comfort of their own home.

The festival is also one of the hospice's big fundraising events, usually raising over £10,000 annually, so it is hoped that the virtual event will help keep vital services running in the face of a £1 million gap in funding due to Covid-19.

Matthew Pennycook, the MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, backs the idea, saying in the midst of the current crisis, the hospice's care and support are needed more than ever.

"I hope the community will take the time to appreciate remotely the many splendid residential gardens, and also donate to the Hospice’s Emergency Appeal so that they can continue to provide outstanding specialist end of life care to families in our community."

Virtual Open Gardens contains over 40 homemade video tours, with garden owners from Bexley, Blackheath, Charlton, Eltham and Greenwich showcasing their stunning and lovingly tended gardens and sharing gardening ideas and inspiration.

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This virtual event has already raised over £3,000 and has attracted wide spread support from the community, including another local MP Abena Oppong-Asare.

Speaking about the event, she said: "I’m very proud to have organisations like the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice in the constituency of Erith and Thamesmead. The Hospice does amazing work all year round and have helped to create a stronger, more connected community during the pandemic.

"Virtual Open Gardens is another fantastic project that the community can enjoy.”

The event is sponsored by Hamptons International who have worked hard to help put the event together.

Previously, the festival has taken place in June in support of the Hospice, organised by trustee Tim Barnes.

The community hospice typically cares for around 400 people with a critical illness, many of them in their last few months, but the coronavirus pandemic has already seen this number jump to 700, and demand will only grow.

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Fundraising has also taken a large hit as the majority of fundraising events have been cancelled including and all 17 of its shops have been forced to close.

So to visit the Open Gardens, click this link.

Please consider donating the entrance fee to the Hospice Emergency Appeal so they can continue to provide specialist end of life care to families in the community.

Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice's emergency fund can be found here.