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Winterbourne Head Gardener Dan Cartwright
Winterbourne Head Gardner, Dan Cartwright (credit: Taskforce for Lung Health)

A new survey has revealed that Winterbourne’s Botanic Garden is among the most popular places in Birmingham for local people to ‘take a breath’ and connect with their lungs.

The survey, commissioned by Taskforce for Lung Health, invited local residents to name their favourite city location where they can enjoy their own breathing space, as part of a brand-new awareness campaign around lung health.

Winterbourne, part of the University of Birmingham, came fourth in the poll. The Edwardian house and garden were bequeathed to the University  in 1944, by the house’s last owner, John Macdonald Nicolson. Over the years the garden became the University’s Botanic Garden and the house performed many functions, from accommodation to teaching space. The garden first opened to visitors on occasional days in the 1990s and following the restoration of the house, the site we know today was fully opened in 2010.

Today the garden contains plants from around the globe and provides interest and colour for thousands of visitors throughout the year.

The Taskforce for Lung Health survey found Birmingham Botanical Gardens was the most popular choice overall, with 21% of the vote. This was followed by city locations Cannon Hill Park (19%), canal-side at Mailbox (17%), Winterbourne Gardens (10%) and St Paul’s Square (10%).

Tessa Lovell, Visitor Experience Manager at Winterbourne, said: ““Fresh air and exercise is obviously so important for health. Our beautiful and historical gardens, house and tearoom have provided a haven for visitors for many years and even more so over the challenges of the past 18 months. We are delighted to hear that local people have voted for us as one of Birmingham’s top five breathing spaces, in Taskforce for Lung Health’s recent survey.”

Taskforce for Lung Health is encouraging people in the city to look after their lungs, as well as increase their understanding of the challenges faced by the 1 in 5 people in the UK who live with lung disease.

It is estimated that over 55,000 people in Birmingham & Solihull and Sandwell & West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - a group of lung conditions that causes breathing difficulties. Both areas are in the top fifth of CCGs in the country for prevalence of the condition.

Dr Alison Cook, Chair of Taskforce for Lung Health, said: “We’re encouraging people in Birmingham to take a moment to think about and appreciate their lung health. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many of us to reflect on the importance of taking a breath and the feeling of being able to breathe freely - something that can often be taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

“We want to highlight that this simple action can be a real challenge for the 1 in 5 people in the UK who live with a lung condition, and that action must be taken to help improve the treatment, care and quality of life for every person affected.”

The survey also revealed that 58% of respondents have paused to ‘take a breath’ more often during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people’s most popular reasons being to relax (43%) and clear their head (38%).

Having peace and quiet (40%) and clean air (27%) were voted the most important elements to have in a breathing space, with 44% of respondents being more aware of their lung health when they do pause to ‘take a breath’ in the city.

However, the survey highlighted that there is still a wider lack of awareness around lung health, with only one fifth (21%) being able to correctly state that 1 in 5 people in the UK will be diagnosed with lung disease in their lifetime. And only 8% of respondents were aware that 700,000 hospital admissions in the UK are linked to lung disease each year.

To find out more about the Taskforce for Lung Health ‘Take a Breath’ campaign, and how you can get involved, visit insert weblink or follow the hashtag #BreatheInBrum.

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