The QNI and the National Garden Scheme have announced the creation of a new scholarship programme for community nurses, the NGS Elsie Wagg Scholarship.

The new scholarship was launched by George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme, speaking at the Queen’s Nurse Annual Meeting on 12th May, Nurses’ Day.

The scholarship will support five community nurses each year to undertake a project to improve health and well-being outcomes for people, connected with gardening and social prescribing.

The scholarship is named after Elsie Wagg MBE, the QNI council member who originally had the idea to open gardens to raise funds for the charity, which led to the creation of the National Garden Scheme in 1927. The funds to support the programme represent part of Ms Wagg’s estate transferred from the NGS to the QNI in 2018.

The QNI has a long track record of supporting groups of nurses to develop and implement their own ideas to improve the nursing care of the people they care for in the community. Project leaders receive a year-long programme of individual and group support, as well as funding to implement their project to improve healthcare. Many of these projects go on to become part of mainstream services within their employing organisation and beyond: https://www.qni.org.uk/explore-qni/nurse-led-projects/

The new NGS Elsie Wagg Scholarship will be open to all nurses working in the community, with specific application criteria. The scholarship will be awarded to nurses submitting the best applications for projects that promote the health benefits of gardening and garden visiting among a group of people. It is proposed to award five scholarships per year, building a group of 25 NGS Elsie Wagg Scholars by the NGS centenary year in 2027. The scholarship will open for applications in late summer 2021 and the chosen projects will start in spring 2022.

Elsie Wagg’s name has always been the historic binding of the National Garden Scheme and our founder, The Queen’s Nursing Institute. So it is entirely appropriate that it is funds left to us by Elsie that we have been able to donate back to the QNI to establish this new scholarship programme. Equally important, the scholarship will be a vehicle through which we will together provide tangible evidence of the health benefits of gardens in a series of new projects and I am full of expectation at the exciting projects that I know community nurses – who are such a resourceful and innovative bunch – are going to come up with.

George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme

I am delighted that through the generosity of the National Garden Scheme and our shared heritage that we are able to offer this exciting and challenging new scholarship programme for community nurses. I am also very pleased that we are able to celebrate the enormous contribution made by Ms Elsie Wagg MBE to the QNI and to community nursing services over many years. Her role as a philanthropist and innovator deserves to be more widely known.

All QNI innovation projects are supported to reach measurable objectives, and to evaluate and report on their success in meeting those objectives. NGS Elsie Wagg scholars would also be supported to write journal articles and give poster presentations at healthcare conferences. As such it is anticipated that the NGS Elsie Wagg Scholarships would, over time, contribute significantly to the evidence base around the value of gardens and gardening to the physical, mental and emotional health of individuals and communities.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the QNI


Notes to Editors: 

Example Scholarship Projects 

The QNI and NGS will publish application criteria that will encourage scholarship applications that seek to improve people’s physical, mental or emotional health, or a combination of these, for example:

  • A General Practice Nurse working with colleagues and individuals to create or improve a flower/herb garden at a GP Surgery;
  • A Community Learning Disability Nurse organising visits to National Garden Scheme gardens for individuals and/or groups of service users, family members and volunteers;
  • A Community Mental Health Nurse working with colleagues to support service users to access gardening and garden visiting as part of therapy;
  • A Care Home Nurse working with residents and families to develop a sensory garden at their home and encouraging residents to participate in the planning and to share stories and memories about plants and gardens;
  • A Prison Nurse working with people in prison and colleagues to create or improve a prison fruit and vegetable garden.

Elsie Wagg MBE (1876-1949) 

The QNI and NGS are currently undertaking further research into the life and work of Elsie Wagg MBE and other members of her family.

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