On Tuesday 14th July, HRH Princess Eugenie virtually visited national charity Horatio’s Garden to find out more about how they’ve been supporting patients with spinal injuries, their loved ones and NHS staff throughout lockdown.
Since becoming the charity’s Royal Patron in 2019, Princess Eugenie has frequently been in touch with the charity and in light of Coronavirus felt it was important to raise awareness of the vital work Horatio’s Garden are responsible for across the UK.
The charity support everyone affected by spinal injury through creating and nurturing beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres, which offer calm and comfort to people adjusting to life-changing injuries.
At a time when more of us have been seeking solace in nature and the outdoors more than ever, the charity’s gardens have been instrumental in helping to ease the worries and stress of patients who have now been unable to leave hospital or see their loved ones in over three months.
Having previously undergone surgery for scoliosis at the age of 12, Princess Eugenie has had a small glimpse of how it feels to be confined to a hospital bed and understood the extraordinary challenges currently being faced by hundreds of patients.
Leading a thoughtful conversation, the Princess was joined by Horatio’s Garden Founder & Chair of Trustees, Dr Olivia Chapple, as well the Head Gardeners of each Horatio’s Garden; Stephen Hackett in Salisbury; Sallie Sillars in Scotland; Jacqui Martin-Löf in Stoke Mandeville and Imogen Jackson in Oswestry.
The Princess was keen to hear more about the way the charity’s gardens have been used throughout the Coronavirus crisis, inviting each Head Gardener to share their stories from the past three months.
All the Head Gardeners spoke of how important Horatio’s Garden has been to patients’ physical rehabilitation, particularly since the spinal centres took the difficult decision to close their gyms and hydrotherapy pools in order to keep patients safe.
Each shared touching tales of NHS physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams embarking on sessions in the gardens, telling the Princess that patients have been more enthusiastic since the change and that consequently staff plan to continue to use the gardens in this way once the crisis is over.
Similarly, each Head Gardener mentioned that the charity’s socially distant garden therapy groups and virtual creative workshops have been key to patients’ mental and physical wellbeing, whilst various events including Sports Days, Midsummer parties, as well as VE Day and Clap for Carers celebrations, have all successfully brought patients and staff together through fun and laughter in spite of everything.
The Princess was both pleased and moved to hear about the incredible camaraderie established between patients and staff in Horatio’s Garden during the crisis, who have all helped each other to cope in the absence of family and friends. She was also thrilled to discover that the charity’s volunteers have managed to maintain a fantastic sense of community despite not being allowed to visit the gardens and appreciated their efforts to support the charity from afar.
As the call came to a close, everyone felt that they had gained a greater understanding of what patients, their loved ones and NHS staff mean when they call Horatio’s Garden a ‘lifeline’.
Princess Eugenie praised the charity for making a difference to hundreds of people’s lives throughout lockdown and promised that she would continue to do whatever she could to support the wonderful cause.
If you too would like to help Horatio’s Garden to support people facing extraordinarily difficult times you can make a donation by simply visiting www.horatiosgarden.org.uk/donate. Anything you can give will make a real difference.