Sowing the seeds of hope

What started as a seed of an idea to raise money for the NHS, has blossomed into an international ‘Sunflowers of Hope’ growing competition – all in aid of our Bradford Hospitals’ Charity.

Proud dad Peter Kershaw decided he wanted to support staff at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where his son Jonny Kershaw is a junior doctor. So he distributed sunflower seeds to people throughout his local village in Kent, as well as family and friends around the world.

So far, Peter has posted out more than 400 sunflower seeds to friends and family in Cornwall, Manchester, Leeds, London, the Republic of Ireland, as well as people as far afield as California, New York and Australia. With the seeds, he has posted a note asking people to provide photos of their progress and, if they think the NHS has done a good job, to make a donation to the Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ NHS charity – Bradford Hospital’s Charity.

Businessman Peter said: “I am keen for the money raised to go to Jonny’s hospital Trust. He’s a junior doctor and has been working on the Covid wards at Bradford Royal Infirmary. I know it’s been a very difficult time for him and his colleagues. I want to give them some moral support.

“Every year I grow sunflowers and they bring a smile to my face. If everyone sows their seeds, we have these beautiful flowers to look forward to. You have to give yourself to the seeds and nurture them to get a result. But it’s worth it in the end. Just like the NHS will come out of this stronger in the end.”

So far, Peter’s village WhatsApp group is a sea of competing sunflower photos, he said, with donations starting to come in as the first shoots appear.

Peter explained that the seeds can grow into giant sunflowers as high as 10ft (or 3m), with the flower heads containing up to two thousands seeds.

“We would then like to sow a field of sunflowers in our village as a celebration of beating Covid-19,” said Peter.

Jonny, who recently moved back to surgery after working on the Covid wards, said: “I couldn’t be more proud of my dad’s work and I hope he’s the man I grow up to become. He has always been incredibly supportive of me and cared more about others than himself. This is yet another example of that.”

Hayley Collis, Head of Fundraising for Bradford Hospitals’ charity, said: “This is a beautiful idea to raise money and a smile during these difficult times

“It’s wonderful to know that people are growing sunflowers to raise money for our staff and patients as far afield as Australia and California. Thank you to Peter and everyone taking part.”

To find out more about Peter’s ‘Sunflowers of Hope’ campaign, please visit and to request some seeds to take part, tweet Peter using his Sunflowers of Hope Twitter handle @SunflowerTarget.

Please share your sunflower photos with Peter via Twitter and via the charity account (@BTHFTcharity).

All money raised by Peter and his sunflowers will be spent on supporting Bradford Teaching Hospitals staff, both long and short term, and purchasing equipment and services to enhance patient care and treatment.

You can find out more about the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity NHS Hospital Heroes appeal at