June 13, 2024

Kind reflections from the daughter of a former beneficiary

The daughter of a former beneficiary recently shared her reflections on the impact of Horatio’s Garden on her mother’s life following her spinal injury in a thank you card delivered to Horatio’s Garden South West.

We are so grateful to her for sharing her kind, moving, and insightful thoughts, and have transcribed the contents of her letter below. 

Dear Staff and Volunteers at Horatio’s Garden,

This is a card to say thank you to the staff, volunteers and donors (all of you!) who make Horatio’s Garden possible. Last year I was driving with my sister and she said ‘imagine what it would have been like without Horatio’s Garden’. She was talking about mum being with you in the Salisbury spinal unit as a patient in rehab and then through end of life care, at the start of last year. I want to use this card to tell you the difference the garden and its activities made, for mum and for us as a family.

Ability to host

When mum moved into the spinal unit the garden gave mum her dignity as it was a place for her to host. She had a lovely garden back home which she often sat out in and had friends over to enjoy. Horatio’s provided some continuity. I loved the empowerment the kitchen facilities enabled too, with the cupboards at the right height and all the ‘ingredients’ you need to entertain someone.

Ability to give

The collection of craft items mum made helped give us something to talk about as a ‘show and tell’ opportunity. Seeing mum be creative revealed an untapped side of her we would never have seen back home. It suggested ‘new possibilities’ in this strange new chapter.

Helping mum create gifts she could give to us; she gave my sister a picture she’d made in a craft session using pressed flowers. Her face was brimming with pleasure and pride as she handed it over. It was a special moment of joy in a busy and complicated afternoon.

When I was ‘down at Horatio’s’ I could see that other families were also doing ‘whole family’ activities. Perhaps the first time they had come together to do this? You could see that it was helping people learn to be together in new ways.

Providing a destination

The quality of signage (posters and chalk notices); the care taken in the planning of the events and making them so attractive. The consistency and commitment you demonstrated as a team were so important when other things felt so out of control and when mum wasn’t able to commit because of changes in her health.

It was hard to see mum unable to get down to the garden when a set back would keep her in bed, but it was good to feel her missing out in a way because it meant she had a ‘destination’, somewhere genuinely desirable to go and the beginnings of a ‘social life’ even, with all the restrictions of being in the unit and away from home.


Being able to enjoy the sun, get some fresh air and hear the bird song. An oasis. Mum loved flowers and bird song, and the garden and its daffodils in particular were something to look forward to. It was also something to look out to from the viewing window as a visitor when mum was bed bound, or it was raining.

Private space

Then when mum had pneumonia and moved into end of life care, Horatio’s garden was there for us as a family. I had a job interview and needed somewhere to revise, and the small sun house with the sliding door was a good hide away. It was a place you could take mum’s visitors when they needed a break too.


Mum loved music. Giving her access to live music (in such restricted circumstances) filled her with rhythm and energy. There was also one day, right in mum’s final days, when it was raining heavily. No one was in the activity room but the harpist who was booked, and stayed and was playing. I came down to the room for a break. I was able to record the harp playing on my phone and take it back up to mum in her bed to play to her. It was so beautiful and gentle; just what we all needed to hear at a painful and delicate time.

I appreciate this is a long account but I want you all to know the value of the work you do. I work in the community world and in volunteer management for my day job. I know it’s hard to capture the value.

Thank you for all you did and still also do for people staying in the unit. It is moving to think that people who didn’t know mum, the donors, helped her to feel valued and cared for – thank you.

Name (youngest daughter)

We were so moved to hear about the impact that Horatio’s Garden had for this former beneficiary and her family. If you would like to support us in nurturing the wellbeing of those impacted by spinal cord injury, please consider making a donation here.

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