Stoke Mandeville Press Update

Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville is holding a grand opening on the 9th of September, marking the delivery of a beautiful therapeutic garden to patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre and the charity’s extraordinary progress since its formation in 2012.

It is less than six years ago that the charity Horatio’s Garden opened their very first therapeutic garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury Hospital, and this remarkable charity is delighted to announce the opening of their biggest garden yet, at the National Spinal Injury Centre (NSIC) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital this September.

Horatio’s Garden build beautiful gardens at spinal injury centres at NHS hospitals to allow patients a calm and tranquil outdoor space to spend time in while they undergo treatment and rehabilitation, and the NSIC is one of the largest specialist spinal centres in the world. Patients are referred to Stoke Mandeville from across the South and East of England, and a dedicated paediatric ward cares for children from across Great Britain and Ireland.

Horatio’s Garden was invited to create a third garden at Stoke Mandeville, giving patients who have experienced life changing illness and injuries the chance to spend time with their families and staff in beautiful calming surroundings thus aiding their recovery and improving their quality of life.

The Stoke Mandeville Horatio’s Garden is the result of nearly 3 years of tireless fundraising by staff and legions of volunteers and supporters, with headline sums including a £135,000 grant from the National Gardens Scheme under their Gardens and Health Initiative. Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville will be officially opened by Mary Berry on Sunday the 9th of September with a celebratory afternoon of tea and cake with patients, staff, volunteers and donors. The garden has been carefully designed by Joe Swift, a leading garden designer and regular presenter on BBC Gardeners’ World, and also includes a beautiful garden room designed by Andrew Wells.

Joe Swift comments:

“It is simply wonderful to see my design come to fruition and the garden finally ready for the patients of the NSIC to enjoy. Working with Horatio’s Garden has been a departure from the usual garden design projects I undertake but has been an opportunity to make a meaningful difference to people who have suffered life-altering injuries and share the therapeutic benefits of gardening with them.”

The planting has been planned to ensure there are swathes of colour and texture throughout the year whilst being both bird and butterfly friendly. The garden includes an accessible greenhouse specially equipped for patients to help with the gardening and in particular propagating the next plants to be added. There is a focus on being able to grow herbs, salads and fruits that the patients can then enjoy. The garden room provides a light and airy sanctuary for patients to enjoy being out of the wards and immersed in plants, even when the weather is poor.

Garden therapy groups funded by Horatio’s Garden and run by the charity’s head gardener for Stoke Mandeville Jacqui Martin-Lof and a team of volunteers assembled by the charity ensure patients are able to gain maximum benefit from their time spent in the garden. Horatio’s Garden is responsible for all ongoing care and maintenance of the garden and delivering activities for patients in the garden, so that it becomes a vibrant place of gentle rehabilitation.

The Stoke Mandeville garden is the third garden that Horatio’s Garden has built to date, along with Salisbury (which opened in 2012) and Glasgow (2016), with a fundraising campaign for a fourth at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries in Oswestry only £60,000 away from reaching its goal. Fundraising for a garden at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore is now underway, with a full campaign due to launch in 2019.

Dr Olivia Chapple, Founder and Executive Trustee of Horatio’s Garden, says:

“The opening of Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville represents an incredible milestone for the charity. This garden will open up the benefits of a healing garden to so many more patients now and in the years to come, and to be opening our third garden in such a short space of time is just amazing. I am forever grateful to the people who donate their time and money to support Horatio’s Garden as we work towards our aim of building a garden at every spinal injury centre in the United Kingdom.”

To arrange press visits to the garden, request high-res images, receive impact reports or arrange interviews and photo shoots please contact Victoria Malcolm at the Nelson Consultancy: or 07702 811067.
Alternatively, please email


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