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The green shoots of patient recovery

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Crystal Oldman Crystal Oldman

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to participate in the making of a short film to promote the work of the wonderful charity, Horatio’s Garden.

In 2011, a young man named Horatio Chapple was taking part in an expedition in Norway when several young people were attacked by a polar bear in their camp. Tragically, Horatio died from his injuries and the charity named Horatio’s Garden has been set up in his name.

Horatio’s father, David, is a consultant in the Salisbury spinal injuries unit, where Horatio had volunteered. While there, Horatio had been concerned that patients in the unit had no outside space or garden environment to enjoy while resident in the unit – which could be for several months and sometimes up to two years.

Horatio’s parents have created a charity in his name that funds the design and creation of therapeutic gardens for spinal injuries units across the UK. The first was in Salisbury and you can see here the significant impact this has made to patients’ lives.

Another is now being developed in Glasgow and the third garden will be completed this year at the national spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville. This garden is being funded by the National Garden Scheme (NGS), a charity created as the fundraising arm of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) in 1927. Now separated from the QNI, as a highly successful independent charity in its own right, the NGS has remained true to its original purpose in funding community nursing, including the QNI.

Through the fabulous army of NGS volunteers who open 3500 gardens for charity every year, the NGS understands the impact of gardening on the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health of the owners – and those who visit their beautiful gardens. Patients in spinal injuries units are deprived of opportunities to experience the outside world and the enjoyment of flowers, plants and trees which might otherwise assist in their overall recovery and rehabilitation process.

It was a joy therefore to meet the inspirational Olivia, Horatio’s mother; the fabulously supportive Vicky, an expert advisor who experienced a spinal injury several years ago, and the talented garden designers, Jo Swift, Cleve West and James Alexander-Sinclair. Together they will be creating a beautiful garden at the Stoke Mandeville unit to enable patients to experience a tranquil and therapeutic space with friends and family, which will aid them on to the long road to recovery.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

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