August 2, 2023

Kicking off the second half of a fantastic partnership with Ulster Rugby

We are thrilled to announce that after a very successful season as the official charity partner of Ulster Rugby, the club have announced that they will continue supporting Horatio’s Garden as official charity partner during the 2023/24 season!

Our current partnership with Ulster Rugby has been absolutely incredible and we have achieved so much with the support of their players, staff, and of course their brilliant supporters! We are enormously grateful to everyone who has been involved so far – you have been truly fantastic.

Throughout the 2022/23 season, Ulster Rugby has been helping to raise the charity’s profile both across Belfast and beyond. Thanks to their efforts, hundreds of thousands of people are now aware of the important work we do to nurture the wellbeing of people after spinal injury.

Alongside increasing awareness of Horatio’s Garden, we are delighted and immensely proud to share that the entire Ulster Rugby community has raised a phenomenal £11,547 in aid of Horatio’s Garden so far.

Our exciting partnership kicked off with a video introducing Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland – the charity’s seventh garden – which was broadcast to a packed Kingspan Stadium and featured Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie sharing a message of support and encouraging everyone at the club to get involved.

Repeated on the big screen and in matchday programmes throughout the season, we know Jonny’s words have played an enormous part in helping to bring Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland to life. The horticultural haven will open later this year, supporting patients, their loved ones and NHS staff at the Spinal Cord Injuries Unit in Musgrave Park Hospital just a few miles away from the stadium.

Another regular fixture on match days were the friendly faces of the charity’s volunteers, who together with the enthusiastic Ulster Rugby matchday team toured the stands with buckets in hand to collect thousands of pounds, all generously donated by Ulster Rugby fans.

In addition to asking the charity’s volunteers to be at the heart of the action, Ulster Rugby has frequently invited current and former patients from the Spinal Cord Injuries Unit to watch the team’s home games live at Kingspan Stadium. This includes Team GB Wheelchair Rugby player and Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland Ambassador, David Ross, who had a brilliant time with his family in the President’s Box at the team’s nail-biting New Year’s Day game.

Ulster Rugby’s staff have also been immensely supportive of the partnership from the very beginning. From raising funds in the office, to devising ingenious fundraising ideas for their Christmas and summer markets, the whole team have gone above and beyond to involve the local community in helping to make Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland a vibrant reality.

They also encouraged their supporter groups and clubs across the province to spread the word, with special mentions going to Ballynahinch RFC and the South Wales Ulster Rugby Supporters Club, who both went to extraordinary efforts to raise funds and awareness of the charity during the season.

Whilst there have been many memorable moments, the highlight of the partnership so far was undoubtedly welcoming some of Ulster Rugby’s Senior Men’s players and staff to the planned site of Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland at Musgrave Park Hospital for the grand breaking ground moment. We were also thrilled when Ulster Rugby joined us for a visit to one of the charity’s existing gardens, Horatio’s Garden Wales at University Hospital Llandough in Cardiff, when the Senior Men’s team played Cardiff Rugby earlier this season.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to see Ulster Rugby meeting beneficiaries, NHS staff, and the charity’s volunteers and staff, with the team listening intently as people shared more about how Horatio’s Garden has supported their physical and psychological rehabilitation and how much Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland will mean to everyone at the spinal centre in Musgrave Park Hospital.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said on extending the charity partnership:

We are looking forward to continuing to support Horatio’s Garden as our official charity partner in the season ahead, as work progresses on the garden at Musgrave Park Hospital. Together with players and staff, I have heard first-hand what a difference it will make to local patients with spinal injuries, and the club would like to thank everyone from across the province who has generously donated so far. It’s great that the build is going well, and we look forward to celebrating the opening of the garden with Olivia and her team in the coming months.”

With work on the charity’s seventh garden well underway, the money and the awareness raised by this continued partnership will be absolutely vital in ensuring the garden will soon be ready to welcome patients and their loved ones, helping to change the lives of people affected by spinal injury from across the whole of Northern Ireland.

Bethan Cummings, Director of Fundraising at Horatio’s Garden had a very big thank you to say to the Ulster Rugby community:

“It really has been incredible to see how much support we have had from everyone at Ulster Rugby over the season, and every penny raised will be very well spent. It’s lovely to know that this partnership will have such a lasting legacy across Belfast, and with the continued support of Ulster Rugby for next season, it will be that much easier to get our garden open for the use and enjoyment of everyone affected by spinal injury from across Northern Ireland. Thank you so much for your continued support, we can’t wait for next season to start.”

With the news that Ulster Rugby were keen to continue our partnership, we were again eager to welcome the team to Musgrave Park Hospital to share the special update with everyone at the centre. We were delighted to be joined by Ulster Rugby President Philip Gregg and several of the Ulster Senior Women’s team, who toured the site of the garden and enjoyed hearing more about how the build is progressing.

Whilst there’s still a little way to go, it was great to show everyone around the site, especially as it is now truly beginning to resemble award-winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon’s stunning, carefully considered design.

We are all thrilled by the prospect of soon welcoming Ulster Rugby to the grand opening of Horatio’s Garden Northern Ireland. We wish the entire team well for the coming season and we will definitely be cheering for you all on matchdays!

Thank you again to everyone who has been involved in this incredible partnership so far; we are very much looking forward to next season and seeing what this exciting new chapter holds for both Horatio’s Garden and Ulster Rugby.

To watch the new film celebrating our continued partnership with Ulster Rugby, click here

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