THE NEW LIFE ORGAN DONATION GARDEN
The first New Life Organ Donation Garden was created at Kiltonga, Newtownards by a collaboration of Ards Council and the Charities of the Northern Ireland Transplant Forum, in which NIKPA took a leading role.
The driving force behind the Kiltonga Garden were William Johnston (co-Chair NIKPA), the late Geraldine McCandless (Dialysis patient at the Ulster Renal Unit) and John McFarland (a heart recipient of over 20 years). The idea of developing a commemorative Organ Donation Garden originated from a Play “G.O.D. GIFT OF DONATION” written by William whilst on dialysis in 2009.
In the Play a member of a donor family, a recently transplanted patient and a patient on dialysis all accidentally meet in an imaginary New Life Garden and they all discuss and end up celebrating the merits of Organ Donation. William, Geraldine and John wanted to make such a Garden a reality in which donor families could remember their loved ones who gave the Gift of Life: transplant recipients could give thanks to their donor and donor families and those waiting for a transplant could visit to gain strength in the knowledge that there superheroes willing to give the Gift of Life.
The team approached North Down Council first for support but none was forthcoming. They then approached Ards Council through Jim Shannon MP for Strangford. By pure coincidence, Ards Council were planning to create a Garden at Kiltonga beside a 13th century Quaker Chapel currently being used for weddings. Ards Council were delighted to create the Garden and dedicate it to the promotion of Organ Donation in Northern Ireland. They agreed to create and maintain it at no cost to the Charities.
Work began at the beginning of 2011 and was officially opened on 21st June 2011 (the longest and lightest day of the year). The NEW LIFE GARDEN transforms in colour in tune to the seasons providing a floral celebration of Organ Donation and has been visited many times by donor families and patients throughout the years
In 2018, the NIKPA 25 YEAR ANNIVERSARY STONE was erected. This came from the CIRCLE OF LIFE NATIONAL ORGAN DONATION GARDEN, SALTHILL, GALWAY created by the Dennis and Martina Goggins in 2014. Dennis and Martina lost their only son, Eamonn in a car crash in 2006 and opened the Galway Garden in 2014. Dennis is a stonemason by trade and was delighted to create the NIKPA 25TH ANNIVERSARY STONE for the Kiltonga NEW LIFE GARDEN.