London Freemasonry donation supports patients with spinal injuries

W Bro John Little SLGR reports


Charlotte was only 36 years old when a quad biking accident in Costa Rica left her paralysed. Having awoken at 5am as usual to head out by quad for her early morning surf, minutes later she found herself face down in the jungle.


“I was in so much pain. Everything was so difficult for me, but I was treated with immense care by all the doctors and nurses.”

After a month in hospital in Costa Rica, she was flown back to the UK. Here, she spent a further month in the Royal London Hospital, before being transferred to the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore.

It was here that Charlotte discovered Horatio’s Garden London & South East.

Horatio’s Garden is a nationwide charity nurturing the wellbeing of people after spinal injury; in beautiful, vibrant sanctuaries in the heart of NHS spinal injury centres. Leading designers create accessible gardens where the charity’s team, alongside volunteers and creatives, care for people and plants alike.

The charity’s story begins back in 2011 with Horatio Chapple; a schoolboy who wanted to be a doctor and who volunteered at The Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury during his school holidays. Talking with patients, he noticed there was a lack of outdoor space for patients with spinal injuries and their loved ones.

Horatio intended to change that. Patients in the Spinal Centre were unanimously enthusiastic about his idea to create a garden and, encouraged by his parents, Dr Olivia Chapple and David Chapple FRCS, Horatio began to put his plan into action.

Tragically, Horatio’s life was cut short in 2011 at just 17; and following an outpouring of love and goodwill, the nationwide charity was formed in his name. His legacy has continued to grow and is now nurturing the wellbeing of thousands of patients like Charlotte, their families and friends, and NHS staff throughout the UK.

The charity’s vision is to sustainably grow thriving communities and biodiverse gardens in all 11 NHS Spinal Injury Centres in the UK. To date Horatio’s Garden has opened six gardens in the South West, Scotland, Stoke Mandeville, Midlands, London & South East and Wales, with a seventh under construction in Northern Ireland and the capital appeal now underway for an eighth in Sheffield.

A distilled version of this eighth garden, soon to become Horatio’s Garden Sheffield & East in 2024, was recently awarded ‘Best in Show’ at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. Designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg of the award-winning Harris Bugg Studio, they join a glittering array of acclaimed Horatio’s Garden designers.

Among them is eight-time RHS Chelsea gold medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith, who brought Horatio’s Garden London & South East to life. Opening in September 2020, this exceptional garden has flourished thanks to a brilliant volunteer team led by Head Gardener, Ashley Edwards and Garden Administrator, Tracey McCarthy.

Horatio’s Garden relies entirely upon public support, including that of the London Freemasons, who have generously supported the charity’s London-based garden with a grant of £10,000.

The grant will be instrumental in ensuring the charity can continue to nurture the garden, run horticultural therapy sessions, hold creative workshops, and host seasonal events for people spending time in Horatio’s Garden London & South East.

It’s clear for patients, their loved ones and hospital staff that spending time in Horatio’s Garden has a profoundly positive impact. Research shows that 98% of the charity’s beneficiaries see an improvement in their wellbeing, with 88% reporting that the gardens have supported their mental and physical rehabilitation.

In Charlotte’s words, “Horatio’s Garden helped me so much. It’s therapeutic and very inspiring and you forget about your worries. The healing power of nature is so important.”

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 52 August 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 52 here.