The story of Horatio Chapple is one that no one can forget, but I first came to know about Horatio’s Garden when I went to a talk in Winterbourne Dauntsey village hall, given by Cleve West. This was in the autumn of 2012. He showed slides of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ state of the garden and the transformation from mud to mixed borders was miraculous! You could see that Cleve loved the whole concept of what the garden wanted to achieve. At the end of the talk he said that more volunteers were needed, and I knew I wanted to work there. I have two jobs but I had a day a week to spare and wanted to do something practical, so a gardening job suited me very well. I didn’t realise to begin with that there is much more to Horatio’s Garden than just gardening!
For me, volunteering means being part of a dedicated team of people who love being in the garden, doing whatever needs to be done, be that providing tea and cake, listening to a patient, artwork, comforting a relative and, yes, lots of gardening too! Competitive cake making also comes into the mix, especially during open garden days and patient events. I have made many new friends and improved both my gardening and sewing skills (being part of the craft team). Fundraising events such as our Summer and Christmas Fairs and the Chelsea Flower Show are hard on the feet but really satisfying. We not only sell merchandise but spread the word of the garden far and wide. I am very proud to be part of a movement which has sent out its aims to all points of the compass, but which have all originated from Salisbury. The happiness that the garden brings to patients and families is deeply pleasing to see.
We are so grateful to Lesley for sharing her serendipitous story with all of us and we would like to thank all our volunteers for the wonderful work they do in every one of our gardens throughout the UK.