During National Gardening Week, we are sharing the work of another charity that also supports people living with spinal cord injury. The Horatio’s Garden project was named after Horatio Chapple, who was a volunteer at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury during his school holidays. By spending time talking to the Salisbury’s spinal centre patients and finding out what they needed through a questionnaire, Horatio came up with the idea of building a garden outside the centre.
After his tragic death at 17, his relatives raised money for the garden to be built. The first Horatio’s Garden opened in 2012 at the Salisbury centre and was designed by Cleve West, a well known gardener.
Since then, the project has expanded to become a charity. Olivia Chapple, Chair of Horatio’s Garden, said: “We not only build the garden but we run it as well. It is also a social space, somewhere different and away from their beds where patients can go to have a chat with their relatives.”
The garden is having a positive impact on patients. Olivia said: “With gardening we aim to empower people and help them to realise that they can do something. The self-satisfaction that they get by spending time in the garden or growing something is something that helps them hugely in their rehabilitation.”
Horatio’s Garden organises events and garden therapy. During therapy, patients are encouraged to share their experiences and the challenges they face with others. Every first Sunday of the month, the charity also organises a lunch open to all patients and their friends and families.
Olivia said: “It helps people with spinal cord injury to realise they can do something hands-on but it also helps them physically as it can improve their balance and hand function for example. 97 per cent of the users said that they feel like gardening has improved their happiness.”
Horatio’s Garden wants to build beautiful and peaceful gardens outside every spinal unit across the country. Currently, a garden is being built in the Scottish National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. They are also fundraising to build a garden at Stoke Mandeville.
Back Up has many keen gardeners among our service users, volunteers and staff. We have had great feedback from our recent Arts, Crafts and Horticulture course, which includes a whole day of horticulture, undertaking table top gardening and looking at aspects of garden design.
Our next Arts, Crafts and Horticulture is taking place next year. Get in touch with our courses team for more information.