Ceremony marks the start of building work on special garden at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Horatio's Garden in Stoke Mandeville
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Horatio's Garden in Stoke Mandeville

A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place to mark the start of building on the Horatio’s Garden project at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The charity Horatio’s Garden was set up in memory of Horatio Chapple who died at the age of 17 when his group was attacked by a starving polar bear while on a school expedition in Norway.

Horatio wanted to be a doctor and had volunteered at his local spinal injury centre in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The first Horatio’s Garden opened in 2012 at Salisbury Hospital.

The second opened at the Scottish National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow in August 2016 while gardener Joe Swift has been designing the third garden at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Mr Swift, a presenter on the BBC’s popular Gardeners’ World programme said: “It’s extremely exciting to be starting the build at Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville.

“The design and fundraising process is now complete.

“I, for one, can’t wait to see the transformation of what was an underused, uninviting space into an accessible, vibrant garden where patients, family and friends can spend time together outdoors.”

Horatio’s Chapple founder, Horatio’s mum Olivia, said: “We are very excited to be starting work on this transformative project for patients at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville.

“We are very grateful to everyone who has contributed to the capital appeal to support the creation of this garden, which will help those facing life-changing injuries.

“We would particularly like to thank Sir Robert McAlpine who are generously helping with the site excavation to create a totally level and accessible garden for patients in beds and wheelchairs.”

Nigel Henderson, clinical director at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital said: “I know just how much this garden will mean to patients of all ages, particularly as many need to stay with us for a long time.

“Having such a beautiful outside space will be hugely beneficial and have a positive impact on their wellbeing.

“On behalf of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, I would like to thank all those involved with Horatio’s Garden for choosing to work with Stoke Mandeville.”