April 8, 2024

Horatio’s Garden Founder Dr Olivia Chapple appointed as new High Sheriff of Wiltshire

Founder of Horatio’s Garden, Dr Olivia Chapple has been appointed to the role of High Sheriff of Wiltshire. This is an independent and non-political position appointed by the monarchy for one year.

During her official Declaration ceremony and celebration at St John the Baptist Church in Bishopstone, near Salisbury, Dr Chapple shared that she will focus on encouraging people to connect with nature during her term.

Dr Chapple said: “I feel honoured to have become High Sheriff of Wiltshire and I am really looking forward to the year ahead. It will be a pleasure to meet and thank all the extraordinary people doing wonderful work throughout the county and to discover more about the positive impact of everything they do.”

She added: “As High Sheriff, I also hope to encourage people to connect with nature and embrace spending time outside in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. Spending time in gardens and green spaces is so important, not only for our physical health, but also our mental and spiritual health.”

Dr Chapple was joined by local dignitaries and community leaders from across the region, alongside friends and family to celebrate her appointment. The ceremonial procession included the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton; Chief Fire Officer of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Mr Ben Ansell; Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Ms Catherine Roper; the Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Philip Wilkinson OBE; and the former Mayors of Salisbury, Tom and Caroline Corbin. The Honourable Mrs Justice Judd DBE KC officiated and witnessed the Declaration.

The multi-faith service included prayers by The High Sheriff’s Chaplain, Revd Canon Jenny Taylor; Chief Priest at Swindon Hindu Temple, Prasad Karamchedu; representative of the Jewish Community of Wiltshire, Peter Beyfus; and Imam of Salisbury Central Mosque, Maulana Mahmudul. The music included a world premiere performance of Shantiniketan (Haven of Peace), a hymn for interfaith unity, cultural pluralism and racial justice written by Anita Datta and published by Multitude of Voyces inclusive hymn project.

Dr Chapple’s Declaration ceremony was also attended by former High Sheriffs, including outgoing High Sheriff Pradeep Bhardwaj, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, and Sir Charles Hobhouse, as well as Vice Lord-Lieutenant Sir Andrew Gregory. Ambassadors and supporters of Horatio’s Garden also joined Dr Chapple for the occasion, including the Countess of Radnor, Annie Maw CVO CStJ, Andrew Widdowson, and former beneficiary Charlie West.

Founded by Dr Chapple, the Salisbury-based charity opened the first Horatio’s Garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital in 2012.

Since then, it has opened six additional gardens in NHS spinal injury centres throughout the UK, each one thoughtfully created by a leading landscape designer to nurture the wellbeing of people adjusting to life-changing spinal injuries.

The charity is currently fundraising to bring its eighth garden to life in Sheffield, with a distilled version of the design winning Best in Show and a Gold Medal at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Echoing her intention to connect people with nature, Dr Chapple’s ceremonial outfit features feathers sourced by fellow Salisbury-based charity, The Great Bustard Group. Each one was generously donated by Fergus, the Great Bustard responsible for the reintroduction of bustards to Salisbury Plain.

The Great Bustard is an iconic bird for Wiltshire, appearing on the county coat of arms, its crest, and as the symbol of the High Sheriff. During the 19th century, Great Bustards were hunted to extinction, but since 1998, The Great Bustard Group has worked to restore the Great Bustard in the UK. There is now a population of over 100 Great Bustards and they are breeding at a level to be self-sufficient.

Established before the Norman conquest of 1066, the position of High Sheriff was established by royal appointment. The role now actively supports county work across the emergency services, public sector bodies, and the voluntary sector within the community. The High Sheriff is the King’s representative in the county in the respect of law and order.

To follow Dr Chapple’s activities as High Sheriff, follow @highsheriffofwiltshire on Instagram

This story has also featured in the Salisbury Journal.

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