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Spinal Injury Awareness Day – Horatio’s Garden: a haven for spinal injury patients

Spinal injury awareness day – 15 May 2020

Spinal cord injuries can be life-changing and affect not just the injured person, but their family and friends too. People who have sustained spinal cord injuries are faced with long stays in hospital, often up to a year. During their initial hospital stay, a patient may be required to spend their time exclusively lying on the back. From there, progress can be slow. Patients often have limited forms of entertainment and little or no access to the outside world.

The charity Horatio’s Garden creates stunning gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to help and support those affected by spinal injury. The first garden was opened at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment at Salisbury Hospital in 2012 and the gardens have been considered a sanctuary for patients and their families since. The gardens act as spaces for therapy sessions and social and fundraising events. The therapeutic spaces also provide families with some privacy and the opportunity to spend some much needed time alone, to regain some sense of normality.

The gardens are a real haven for patients. This is especially true during the current coronavirus pandemic. To reduce the risks of the virus spreading, patients are not allowed visitors and so the gardens offer a welcome change of scenery especially during the recent spell of fine weather. It is wonderful to hear from Dr Olivia Chapple, co-founder and chair of the trustees of Horatio’s Garden, that NHS staff have also been benefitting from the extraordinary gardens at the spinal units, which have offered a calming and peaceful sanctuary during these highly uncertain times.

Horatio's Garden path | Hugh James

The gardens

There are four Horatio’s Gardens:

  1. Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment at Salisbury Hospital;
  2. Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injury Unit at Glasgow Hospital;
  3. National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Robert Jones; and
  4. Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry.

Work on a new garden in London at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, home of the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre, is well underway and it is hoped that construction of the Cardiff Garden at the new Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre at University Hospital, Llandough will start at the end of this year.

The Welsh Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Centre treats patients from all over Wales, as well as from Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. The Centre is currently situated at Rookwood Hospital, but is moving to a new, purpose-built Spinal and Neurological Centre at Llandough Hospital, which is due to open in 2021. Despite the widespread disruption caused by COVID-19, work on the new Spinal and Neurological Centre has only been delayed by about a month, and patients are still expected to move in early next summer.

Horatio’s Garden is working with award-winning Welsh garden designer, Sarah Price, on the Cardiff Garden. Sarah has produced beautiful designs for the garden, and it is clear that this is a very special and exciting project.

Ways you can support Horatio’s Garden

However, for the garden to become a reality, £800,000 needs to be raised. £500,000 has been secured towards the total so far, and the plan was for the remaining funds to be raised by various events held throughout the year, culminating in a black-tie dinner at Llanerch Vineyard on 6 November. The outbreak of COVID-19 has meant that many of these events, including a picnic and evening at the opera and bike ride from Salisbury to Cardiff have sadly had to be postponed. Obviously, this is incredibly disappointing news, as these events were great opportunities to raise a considerable amount of funding.

While the majority of the fundraising has been put on hold for the time being, there are still ways to get involved and support Horatio’s Garden and the Cardiff project. Horatio’s Garden’s “Grow to Give” campaign is a great way to raise money while staying busy this summer. The idea is simple; grow as many flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables as you can and deliver them to members of your local community, along with a note asking them to donate to the charity. Whether you deliver bunches of flowers, baskets of carrots or jars of homemade jams, the gifts are sure to be enjoyed by your neighbours and loved ones.

Even if gardening isn’t for you, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved and support Horatio’s Garden; taking home-baked cakes and treats to your neighbours is a great alternative to delivering fresh flowers and produce. Hosting a fabulous virtual summer tea party this June is another fun option, and an excuse to catch up with friends! Or, you could simply pledge to donate the cost of your daily commute or morning coffee.

Give To Grow Horatio's Garden | Hugh James


Perhaps the easiest way to donate £5 is to text GARDEN to 70450. Alternatively, donations can also be made online. Your support is more vital now than ever, and any donations will be extremely gratefully received.

Look out for more on Horatio’s Garden from Hugh James in the coming weeks, as they are one of our “HJ Heroes”. In the meantime, for more information about the charity and ways that you can get involved, visit their website or contact me or Cari Sowden-Taylor, as we are both proud to be members of the fundraising committee for the Cardiff Garden.

Hugh James are delighted to support Horatio’s Garden charity. We work closely with charities such as Horatio’s Garden, Spinal Injuries Association, Headway, Child Brain Injury Trust, The Silverlining and Rookwood Spur, who all provide incredible support to individuals and families affected by spinal cord and brain injury.

Hugh James’ specialist Serious Injury department represents many clients who have sustained spinal cord injuries. Visit our dedicated service page for more information about making a claim for compensation following an accident.

Author bio

Cari Sowden-Taylor


Cari is a Partner and Joint Head of the National Serious Injury Team, and specialises in representing adult and child claimants who have sustained life changing injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, limb loss and polytrauma following road traffic collisions, injuries at work and assaults.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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