Horatio’s Garden Oswestry was officially opened by Sir Algernon Heber-Percy on Sunday 22nd September in the Midland Centre for Spinal Injury (MCSI) at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH).
It was an enormously happy occasion, with patients, staff and visitors alike commenting on the beauty of the garden and what a difference it is making to the lives of everyone affected by spinal injury. Head Gardener Imogen Jackson, Assistant Brian and all our brilliant new volunteers have dedicated all their efforts to making the garden feel like home for patients and their loved ones, a quality that was felt by many as they explored the garden. The Oswestry team, along with volunteers from Salisbury and Stoke Mandeville, were thrilled to welcome everyone to the garden and the afternoon flew by in a flurry of tea, cake and sandwiches!
In her speech, Horatio’s Garden Oswestry designer Bunny Guinness recalled first visiting the site back in 2017 and how she had created the original designs in collaboration with patients, families and NHS staff. She and her daughter and business partner, Unity, remembered everyone’s enthusiasm for the project then and shared how lovely it is to now see the space being treasured by so many.
Her sentiments were echoed by the Chair of the hospital’s Board of Directors, Frank Collins, who described the garden as “a truly palpable project, which is a testament to everyone sharing in its belief and vision.”
Horatio’s Garden Oswestry means a great deal to both patients and staff of the MCSI, and their joy and thanks was extraordinarily expressed with a song penned by patient Jill Parrish. The wonderful performance was set to the tune of ‘An English Country Garden”, so as everyone became familiar with the words the crowd were able to join in too. It was an incredibly moving moment.
Their performance truly reflected the spirit of Horatio’s Garden and illustrated beyond doubt that the contribution of all those who have supported the project is absolutely invaluable. The garden was funded entirely by donations, with the League of Friends, the National Garden Scheme and the Shropshire Freemasons all giving incredibly generous grants to help us to plant hope in Oswestry. Many people involved with each organisation attended the opening, thrilled to see for themselves how the garden is offering support to patients, families and friends.
Both Founder and Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, and Frank Collins thanked everyone in the League of Friends, including Chair Peter David, Charity Director Victoria Sugden and Vice Chair, the Lady Trevor, for their “marathon endeavours” that ensured the project was supported from start to finish. Olivia also welcomed Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme, George Plumptre, who recently spoke of Horatio’s Garden Oswestry at the Landscape Show and was delighted to be able to return to see it in all its glory.
Read Construction and Butler Landscapes were thanked by Olivia and Bunny, who were both grateful to their teams for working so hard in all winds and weathers to bring the garden to life. Owen Hemmings was noted for expertly overseeing the build from the beginning, as well and for being the calmest, most organised Project Manager Olivia and Bunny have ever worked with! Architect Andrew Wells and artist Martin Rodgers were also mentioned for creating the stunning garden room, which has already become the beloved social hub of the garden.
Every official opening of one of our gardens is a momentous occasion, although this one was made particularly special too by a message of congratulations from our Royal Patron, HRH Princess Eugenie, which reinforced the importance and value of everyone’s achievement.
There was a uniquely wonderful atmosphere throughout the garden all afternoon, which was enhanced by the gentle music of the brilliant Tribeca Trio and captured perfectly by photographer Craig Conville.
As a final thought, proud patron of Horatio’s Garden Oswestry, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy, shared that he had “never known such a warm and generous response to an appeal and project.” In that spirit, he urged everyone to continue helping Horatio’s Garden Oswestry, asking everyone to do whatever they can to ensure that the garden continues to offer support to those facing difficult times for many years to come.
To donate to Horatio’s Garden Oswestry, please click HERE.
To find out more about volunteering in Horatio’s Garden Oswestry, please click HERE.