Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, Horatio’s Garden has been a lifeline for patients with spinal cord injuries and NHS staff who are currently living and working in hospital.
“I am so proud of all the patients and staff, many of whom have been helping in the garden. To see everyone outside, not dwelling on their worries and hearing them chat and laugh, or even just enjoying the garden in silence, is the best tonic.”
Lead Nurse MCSI, Rebecca Warren
As lockdown measures gradually begin to ease, we hope that each Horatio’s Garden will soon be able to welcome back patients’ loved ones and our volunteers. Whilst our gardens may have been quieter than usual over the past few months, they’ve proven to be more vital than ever in supporting people’s health and wellbeing.
“Without the wheelchair training area, patients wouldn’t be able to learn how to handle a camber or a drop kerb as the rest of the hospital is out of bounds at the moment. Horatio’s Garden is an absolute godsend. It makes so much difference to be able to bring patients out here. We are so lucky.”
Kate Betts, Technical Instructor MCSI
Patients with spinal injuries often have reduced lung function, meaning that they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of Coronavirus. Consequently, each Horatio’s Garden in Salisbury, Scotland, Stoke Mandeville and Oswestry has been exclusively used by patients and staff of each respective spinal injury centre. Our Head Gardeners have been incredible throughout lockdown, visiting the gardens at first light to tend to them and to leave out therapeutic gardening and art activities for patients to enjoy in their absence.
There have been some opportunities for our Head Gardeners to see and support patients from a social distance, which have led to many wonderful stories being shared. Both patients and NHS staff have been helping to nurture the gardens, whether that be by watering and deadheading plants, or by creating beautiful summer hanging baskets.
Creativity has continued to flourish too, with lots of patients visiting the garden to paint and craft. As many incredible artists support Horatio’s Garden, we were also able to create a new Virtual Arty Afternoons series on YouTube, which we hope has inspired both professional and amateur artists to give some new techniques a go!
Similarly, our fantastic volunteers have been supporting both patients and each other from afar, particularly with their Thursday afternoon ‘Virtual Reading, Writing & Poetry’ group. The workshop is open to patients, volunteers and NHS staff in Salisbury, Scotland, Stoke Mandeville and Oswestry, bringing the thriving communities across our four gardens closer together.
The gardens have also come into their own in a variety of new ways, including for VE Day and Clap for Carers celebrations, as well as for socially distant sports days and yoga classes!
“Horatio’s Garden is a place where you can forget about what’s going on around you. Forget Covid-19, forget not seeing my family, forget I have a spinal cord injury. It’s a calm and happy place.”
At a time when many of us have been more thankful than ever for our gardens and outdoor spaces, we hope that more and more people come to realise just how vital Horatio’s Garden is for patients, their loved ones and NHS staff.
We are so grateful to every single one of you for your support throughout what continues to be an incredibly challenging time for us all.