Stewart’s Our Hidden Hero
For ‘People with Big Hearts’ we met with Stewart Bertram, the Volunteer Gardener at Hearts Memorial Garden. He gives his time to maintain the space to make a lovely place for families to visit.
Stewart Bertram is a lifelong Jambo who spends his spare time helping others. He started volunteering in 2016 after a Big Hearts recruitment seminar with Fresh Start, a charity who provide a range of services for people settling into new homes. He said “It’s a lovely charity who help people who have been homeless or living in hostels. It’s nice to go along and have a chat and find out a little bit about them.”
He previously volunteered with Gorgie Smiles, a Big Hearts initiative, and was one of the only volunteers who knew anything about gardening. In 2017, Innes Shirreff – the Charity’s Operations Manager, approached Stewart to ask if he could have a look at Hearts’ Memorial Garden to see if he could help. Stewart has never looked back! “The area was initially built as a low maintenance garden but when I came along it was covered in weeds and there was a lot of work to be done” Stewart explained, “There wasn’t even running water but thankfully we have sorted that issue now.”
With a little help from Carol, his wife, Stewart cleared lots of weeds and began to grow the garden from there. “My wife and I both love gardening and she came to help with the clear up. The garden only had conifers and heathers and I felt I could add a better variety of flowers”.
Stewart decided that the garden was in desperate need of some colour, so he brought plants from his own garden to brighten it up “Most of the plants here are from my own garden, I also try to use flowers left by people who visit the garden.”
He spends a couple of hours a week pottering away in the Memorial Garden, watering plants and maintaining the space. Throughout the pandemic, Stewart continued to work in the garden “It was a really challenging time, I wasn’t able to access the Stadium for about 5 weeks. As I worked alone, I was eventually given permission to continue coming in weekly to water the plants to make sure the garden continued to grow.”
Stewart loves Springtime as he enjoys seeing Blue Bells, Daffodils, Snowdrops and his favourite – Bleeding Hearts, appearing in the garden. “It’s also great to see bees buzzing around too!”
He began volunteering for Hearts in 2017 and really enjoys the time he spends at Tynecastle, “Since I began volunteering in the Memorial Garden, I have created a garden full of lovely bright plants all year round. It’s been great to see the garden evolve. I enjoy the peacefulness of the Memorial Garden and I feel honoured to have created a lovely space for people who come and visit to pay their respects.”
Thank you, Stewart, for giving up your time to help so many people, you are a true hidden hero!
– August 2021