Digging deep to support Horatio’s Garden
On a bright and sunny March morning five members of the Bolt Burdon Kemp Spinal Injury Team were warmly welcomed into the Horatio‘s Garden at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for our second Horatio‘s Garden corporate day. We had already had a fantastic time at the London Garden at RNOH Stanmore just before Christmas so the bar was set quite high; the staff and volunteers at Stoke Mandeville did not fail to deliver.
Upon arrival we were met warmly by Head Gardener Amy and Garden Administrator Ana and given a tour of the garden. Even as a regular volunteer I find that every time I go around the garden with Amy I always learn something new. On this occasion I couldn’t help but feel a certain amount of pride at how well the garden looked following a rather intensive mulching season in the weeks just gone by!
Having seen the garden we were tasked with deep cleaning the garden room. The garden room is a very special place; it’s a beautiful space where people can come and find company or solitude. I have been there while people have been quiet and contemplative whilst nursing a cup of tea or slice of cake; and on other occasions, especially when there is live music or arts and crafts the room has literally been buzzing and filled with laughter and conversation. Given the importance of this space to the patients we were delighted to take on the challenge of deep cleaning and truly put our heart and soul into it.
After an alfresco lunch which gave us an opportunity to enjoy the garden even more we were given the fantastic opportunity to sow some seeds in the greenhouse with Amy. This once again turned into an opportunity for learning; not only about nature, but also about how much of a positive impact gardening has on the patients that Amy sees. There are physical benefits as sowing seeds makes for excellent hand therapy; but also the mental health benefits of connecting with nature. Time will tell if our little seedlings turn into plants but I will be keeping a close eye on them.
Our day ended with a spot of weeding; an essential task in any garden. Before I started volunteering at Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville I was very naïve about how vital the volunteers are. Before I volunteered I assumed that the head gardeners were able to care for these amazing spaces on their own. I now know that not to be true or even humanly possible. So it was with great pleasure that we tackled a task that we knew was so vital for the garden and that would enhance this beautiful space.
For me personally, having my colleagues at Stoke Mandeville was an amazing experience. You can’t help but be part of such a fantastic volunteering team and enjoy yourself so much and not want others to feel that way. From some of the comments of my colleagues I think we succeeded:
“It was amazing to spend the day at Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville for our corporate volunteering day so well put together by Amy and Ana. I thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in and giving the Garden Room’s a nice spring clean. Seeing how much patients and their families enjoy and benefit from the spacious and super sunny Garden Room (filled with delicious cake!) was truly rewarding. I volunteer regularly at Horatio’s Garden London and it was great to see how the two gardens make a real difference on a daily basis! I can’t wait to come back!” – Alex Dabek, Senior Associate
“An invigorating day in the garden, some lovely team building and also making the garden room sparkle. I enjoyed every minute” – Rhiannon Daniel, Senior Associate
“Amy’s enthusiasm for the garden was infectious – who knew that mulching was so important (and so interesting)? What a true pleasure to be able to spend a day contributing to something so positive and enriching.” – Tom Lax, Associate
We can’t wait to return later in the year, to see how our seedlings have grown, to see how the garden had thrived and of course to bring more cake!