Spending time in a beautiful garden is a way many of us love to relax - but how often do we take this for granted? For patients with a spinal cord injury, being able to get out into the garden might seem a far off dream. However, Horatio’s Garden is an inspirational charity which has been set up to create and care for beautiful accessible gardens in Spinal Injury Centres around the country.
Last November, I was thrilled to be able to attend the ground breaking ceremony marking the beginning of work on a garden at The Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry.
Patients who have sustained spinal injuries usually need to spend many months in hospital so that they can receive necessary treatment and therapy, and start the rehabilitation process. This can involve prolonged periods of time on bed rest, which must be hugely frustrating and at times claustrophobic. Having the opportunity to go outside again and enjoy the fresh air and wonder of nature is a life affirming experience. Providing accessible gardens gives a fantastic opportunity for patients to rest and relax, to socialise with family, friends and other patients, and to take part in general rehabilitation activities.
I heard about the inspiration behind Horatio’s Garden charity earlier last year when David Chapple, a Spinal Surgeon at Salisbury Hospital, spoke about Horatio’s Garden at our Spinal Injury Conference at The Midlands Centre for Spinal Injures. Horatio’s Garden is named after David’s son, Horatio, who was a volunteer at the Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury in his school holidays and who, along with his dad, came up with the idea for a garden at that centre. Tragically Horatio was killed at the age of 17, but based on patient research, which Horatio had carried out, the plans for the first Horatio’s Garden were drawn up. Horatio had even got himself taken around the site in a bed and wheelchair so that he could get the patient’s perspective on what was needed.
Beautiful accessible gardens have now ben created in the Spinal Injuries Centres in Salisbury, Glasgow and Stoke Mandeville, with work now underway for gardens in Oswestry and London. The Oswestry garden is being designed by the award winning Garden Designer, Bunny Guinness (of Gardeners’ Question Time fame). I’m looking forward to seeing the garden develop and am sure it will make a massive difference to the lives and rehabilitation of patients, both physically and mentally.
For more information about how to support this fantastic charity - as a friend, by making a donation or fundraising, by volunteering in one of the gardens, or even just doing some shopping in their online shop – then please check out their website at www.horatiosgarden.org.uk.