Patients with spinal injuries at Musgrave Park Hospital are set to benefit from a new official partnership between Ulster Rugby and Horatio’s Garden, a charity that creates and nurtures beautiful therapeutic gardens in NHS spinal injury centres across the UK.

Ulster Rugby will announce news of its staff, players and fans commitment to help raise the final £100,000 needed to build and open the NI garden to a packed Kingspan Stadium of 18,000 supporters when they host Leinster this Friday, Sept 30.

In addition to the club championing Horatio’s Garden’s latest community fundraising appeal and in a remarkable gesture of generosity, an anonymous donor has pledged to DOUBLE all donations made by Ulster Rugby and supporters in the community throughout the season – match funding the first £50,000 of the £100,000 fundraising target. 

The Spinal Cord Injuries Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast supports over 1200 patients affected by spinal injury each year. Once opened, the garden will have multiple restorative  benefits for patients and their families from throughout the whole of NI.

Throughout the season Ulster’s players and staff will get the opportunity to learn more about spinal injury, and the work of Horatio’s Garden, with plans in place for them to tour the future site of the Garden at Musgrave Park. The players will also get the chance to meet patients at the hospital, and learn from the clinical staff there about patient rehabilitation post-injury. 

Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland, designed by nine-time RHS Chelsea Gold medallist Andy Sturgeon, will give patients, their loved ones and NHS staff  a social and recreational place to spend time in together. ,  It will also offer  people the chance to enjoy horticultural therapy, along with a variety of creative workshops, live music and seasonal events. It will be a home away from home for patients and their families, helping them to adjust to living with life-changing injuries throughout their months in hospital.

Dr Olivia Chapple, Founder and Chair of Trustees of Horatio’s Garden, which was set up in memory of her son, said:

“With Ulster Rugby having such a huge presence across Northern Ireland, and being passionate supporters of the local community too, we couldn’t think of better partners to help our final efforts to build and open Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland in 2023. My son, Horatio, loved sports and would be hugely grateful to the players, staff and fans of Ulster Rugby for their support this season.”

Jonny Petrie, CEO of Ulster Rugby, was likewise feeling excited and incredibly positive about the club’s opportunity to contribute to the charity over the season. He said: 

In the year ahead, we look forward to playing our part in supporting Horatio’s Garden to create its next garden, which will benefit the many patients who receive treatment at Musgrave Park Hospital following a life-changing spinal injury.

From speaking to the team, and hearing about the impact that previous projects have already had, it’s an opportunity for our staff, players, and supporters to make a real difference to those affected across the province, and it seems fitting to launch the partnership at one of our biggest games of the season.”

Dr Suzanne Maguire, Consultant in Rehabilitation at The Spinal Cord Injuries Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital and a member of the Capital Appeal team said:

“Horatio’s Garden will transform the lives of patients during their rehabilitation. The presence of a garden will allow them to escape the clinical environment and experience the happiness and freedom of the outside world. Anyone who comes to us is dealing with an immense change in their lives. This will transform their rehabilitation experience and will have huge psychological benefits. Thank you, Ulster Rugby, the good you are doing is beyond words.”

We are so grateful to the whole Ulster Rugby team for their incredible support, and we know that with them on board, we will be one step closer to building and opening Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland. Thank you so much for all your help and hard work so far, and we wish you the best of luck both on and off the pitch this season. 

To donate to the Horatio’s Garden  Northern Ireland appeal and show your support for everyone affected by spinal injury, please visit our fundraising page or text “RUCK” to 70450 to donate £5. Any amount you can give will make a massive difference in the lives of everyone affected by spinal injury across Northern Ireland  – we are incredibly grateful for your support.