SALISBURY-BASED charity Horatio’s Garden is championing how positive gardens can be for health and wellbeing.

The charity was set up in memory of Bishopstone schoolboy Horatio Chapple who was killed by a polar bear during an expedition to Svalbard in 2011, when he was 17.

The charity aims to create gardens for spinal injury patients and their families at NHS centres.The first was opened at Salisbury District Hospital’s Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in September 2012.

Dr Olivia Chapple, the chairman of trustees, said: “It is going really well. It is exciting times really.”

She says Horatio’s Garden is “thriving” and there has been a ripple effect since it set up its first garden in Salisbury, which gathered interest from other spinal injury centres across the country.

The charity is in the process of fundraising for a garden to be built at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries in Oswestry with plans for another in London. A Horatio’s Garden opened in Glasgow in 2016 and the charity is in the final stages of completing its Stoke Mandeville site.

“This small idea that Horatio had has just had such an impact,” said Olivia.

“We hope this summer we can open the third one and then next year Oswestry. We are also just about to launch the designs of the next one in London.”

Research carried out found patients’ wellbeing was improved by the outside space provided.

“We know that what we are doing is working for that group of patients and we have got lots of spinal units across the country queuing up to have the same facility,” said Olivia.

“There is a movement of people understanding the impact of gardens and health. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows gardens do have an impact on all sorts of parameters of health.

“There is a tide of change, people seeing gardens aren’t just a pretty extra they actually are vital. It is not until you are removed from it that you realise how important nature and beauty is to have around.”

It costs about £35,000 a year to run the garden in Salisbury.

“Everything raised in this area is used for the running costs here,” adds Olivia. “It has only happened because of the generosity of everybody in Salisbury.”

On average patients spend about six months at the rehabilitation centre and the garden in Salisbury provides an outside space for them during their recovery and garden therapy activities - planting seeds, flower arranging and more.

The garden in Salisbury is supported by about 40 volunteers who spend time with patients, help with events and other activities.

Horatio’s Garden Salisbury’s next big project is to glaze its summer house to give patients more shelter from the elements.