Denise is a passionate fundraiser who has experienced, first-hand, the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease. Denise created the ‘Facing Fear: Finding Hope' garden which won a Gold award for best show garden at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Shower Tatton Park.
Denise Shields is a passionate amateur gardener who has experienced, first-hand, the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease. At the age of 13, Denise’s son Callum was diagnosed with the disease, and in 2013 at the age of 23 he had a severe relapse of the condition which nearly cost him his life, changing his life forever. It took Callum two years to fully enter remission, and during this time, the charity was able to provide support for him. Denise was inspired by the bravery and resilience shown by her son in the face of his debilitating disease, so she wanted to do something positive to help him and all those people who are affected by these dreadful conditions.
Denise was the mastermind behind the idea for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity garden which was inspired by Crohn’s Disease. ‘Facing Fear: Finding Hope in support of Crohn’s and Colitis UK' won a Gold award for best show garden at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Shower Tatton Park which was on display from 20-23 July 2017. As well as winning gold medal at the show, the garden also won the RHS People's Choice Award.
When diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, most people have little knowledge of the future journey they face. In 2013, my son, who lives with Crohn’s Disease, had a severe relapse which nearly cost him his life. Physically and emotionally his life changed forever. Like him, most individuals are fearful and often too embarrassed to speak about the distressing impact their symptoms have on daily life. It was a challenging two-year journey before he fully entered remission.
Determined something positive should come from my son’s experience. I decided to try and find a means to get people talking about the symptoms and impact of Crohn’s Disease. I also wanted to highlight the good work Crohn’s and Colitis UK does to support individuals and their families.
In 2015, my ‘bonkers idea’ was conceived: to design and build a garden which shared the story of an individual’s emotional journey with Crohn’s Disease through illness and remission. In July 2017 the ‘Facing Fear; Finding Hope’ garden in support of Crohn’s and Colitis UK was showcased at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.
Hundreds, if not thousands of visitors resonated with the garden’s theme, it certainly got everyone talking!! I was truly humbled by the response, and it made me even more determined to continue my aim to raise the profile of Crohn’s Disease and tackle the stigma often associated with its symptoms.
It was a very special moment when I was asked to be a Community Champion. I am extremely proud to take on this role, I want to use the opportunity to work alongside the charity and continue to reach out to individuals who suffer from these debilitating conditions and their families, with the message 'you will face fear, but there is always hope'.