June 6, 2023

Richard’s story

Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of Horatio’s Garden. They nurture our gardens to bloom and blossom, whilst supporting patient’s physical and emotional health with care and consideration. Richard Marks is no stranger to how important volunteering is to patients’ wellbeing, having worked closely with patients in his previous PR role and through several volunteering opportunities he’s enjoyed across South West London.

 “In my last job in health and wellness communications, I was focused on raising awareness of a rare disease. The priority there was helping patients and their loved ones to understand and best live with their condition, and to seek the support they needed. Often this meant much more than the medicines they were taking. From my brief time so far volunteering at Horatio’s Garden, it’s clear that alongside what the NHS is providing, the gardens and the therapy they provide are a fundamental element in the care and recovery of people living with spinal injuries.”

Richard was first captivated by the empowering nature of the charity whilst watching television last summer.

 “I saw The Art of the Garden, a programme on Sky Arts about famous gardeners and garden designers, that featured Cleve West and his design of the first Horatio’s Garden at Salisbury District Hospital. The story of Horatio and his legacy – his vision for garden spaces to aid patient recovery – and Cleve’s design blew me away and I said to myself ‘that’s where I want to volunteer’. A week later, after exchanging a few emails, I was there walking through the garden and chatting with Head Gardener Lucy and Garden Administrator Philippa. I said, ‘yes’ to becoming a volunteer on the spot!”

Since joining the volunteer team in Horatio’s Garden South West in early April, Richard has become enamoured with the charity’s mission and has learned a lot too, with his role helping him to develop his own gardening skills whilst supporting patients’ rehabilitation.

 “Gardening ensures I concentrate on what I’m doing and it is such a pleasurable and mind-clearing experience. Helping to create a space where patients can hopefully benefit positively from this special garden is so important – whether it’s by weeding, watering, sweeping, planting, pruning, or simply making a patient a cup of tea and having a chat.”

 “Volunteering is so often defined as giving time to benefit others, but with Horatio’s Garden it goes both ways: volunteers benefit from being part of a great team, from learning about plants and gardening, from talking to and helping patients, and from being in a calm and nurturing space. It’s quite something.”

Richard’s enthusiasm for Horatio’s Garden is tangible and we’re so proud to welcome him to our brilliant volunteer team.

 “Nurturing is a key word for Horatio’s Garden and it’s absolutely true: nurturing recovery, nurturing hope, nurturing relationships for those affected by spinal injury, nurturing of plants and a garden that changes and blossoms over time. It’s amazing to play even a very small part in that.”

Have you been inspired by Richard’s story? Click here to join one of our friendly teams and start your volunteering journey with Horatio’s Garden today.

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