East Lothian teenager Jess Mackie's charity will help generations of sick children and young people

Children and young people at Edinburgh’s Children’s Hospital are to benefit from a new multisensory musical garden created in memory of East Lothian teenager Jess Mackie.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 1:31 pm

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Thought to be the only one of its kind in a UK children’s hospital setting, The Jess Mackie Music Garden is a vibrant, interactive outdoor space which ensures children don’t miss out on the joy of creative play and music-making while in hospital.

Featuring five large, free-standing musical instruments - the Congas, Tembos, Rainbow Trio Chimes, Harmony Bells and Marimba – the garden pays tribute to Jess’ love of music and encourages children and young people to have fun making melodies together in a relaxing, non-clinical setting away from the wards.

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Mia and dad Steven play together in the garden while visiting the hospital

The sensory space has been fully funded by the Jess Mackie Memorial Fund (JMMF), a tribute fund of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC). The fund was set up by the Mackie family to support therapeutic music projects within the hospital in memory of their daughter Jess who passed away in 2018 aged 14. Jess was a member of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and sang with Aberlady and Gullane Parish Churches, at care homes and for charities, and at school concerts.

Parents, Michael and Jackie said: “Jess was a caring and compassionate girl who always sought to help others. At only 14, she had a sense of how powerful music could be in helping people when they were in need.

“Many children and young people in hospital feel vulnerable because they lack control over what's happening to them. Music can have an enormous and positive impact, helping ignite a spark and give back a sense of control.

Mia gets to grips with the multisensory equipment

“It also gives children and young people a means of expressing themselves, making friends and building confidence. Jess knew this and would have loved to know she was a part of making this happen.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the wonderful music garden which is such a fitting tribute to our beautiful daughter. We hope lots of children, young people, families and hospital staff will enjoy it for many years to come.”

When Covid restrictions allow, the music garden will also be used as an outdoor performance space, where ECHC’s visiting musicians – also funded by JMMF – and artists will perform and do music making activities with children and young people all year round.

One-year-old Mia enjoying her spell in the garden

Rachel Baxter, Director of Fundraising at ECHC, said: “Music-making is a large part of the ECHC Arts Programme as it has such a positive impact on children and young people’s wellbeing. It’s fantastic to now have this brand new space in which we can do even more music, performance and arts activities and ensure children don’t miss out on the magic of music while in hospital.

“The Mackie family are incredible and we are enormously grateful to them and their family, friends and supporters for funding the wonderful Jess Mackie Music Garden and all music-making activities within the hospital. Thanks to their support, we can bring Jess’ passion for music and singing to so many more children and young people.”

The specialised instruments were supplied at cut-price by Percussion Play, which worked closely with the hospital.

Managing Director and co-founder, Jody Ashfield: said: “We are delighted our instruments are providing enjoyment to people at Edinburgh’s Children’s Hospital, in memory of Jess Mackie.

Musician and singer Jess was just 14 when she died.

"Our instruments are designed to bring people together, of all ages and abilities to explore and create music in the great outdoors.

"The Music Garden is a wonderful way to remember Jess and we hope more hospitals look to create sensory gardens with outdoor musical instruments.”

To make a donation to the Jess Mackie Memorial Fund, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/JessMackieMemorialFundEdinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity supports the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, as well as other children’s healthcare settings across the Lothians. To donate, visit www.echcharity.org/donate

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The garden is a fascinating mixture of sights, sounds and textures