The beloved garden, created by award-winning designer and BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Joe Swift, has welcomed a brand new team this January
The nation’s recent cold snap means a fair few of us have grown used to a fresh start or two, but unlike the majority of people, the new team at charity project Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville are excited to embrace the cold.
The vibrant charity creates beautiful, accessible gardens in NHS spinal injury centres to support patients, their loved ones and NHS staff affected by spinal injury. To date they have opened five gardens, with a further two in Cardiff and Northern Ireland currently in development.
Opening in 2018, Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville marked the successful completion of the inspirational charity’s third project. Since then, the stunning sanctuary has gone from strength to strength, becoming an integral part of the care offered at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, as well as a vital lifeline for everyone throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Now, this stunning sanctuary and everything it represents is being passed to the gentle, caring hands of new Head Gardener, Amy Moffett (pictured), and new Garden Administrator, Debs Grigg.
Speaking on her first day in her new role, Amy shared: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be joining the team here at Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville. My passion is connecting people with nature, inspiring them to see its beauty, resilience and adaptability, as well as showing them how incredible the natural world is.’
The Kew-trained horticulturalist, who has 15 years of experience working in public gardens from Cornwall to New Zealand, will be responsible for nurturing the garden, supporting patients throughout their rehabilitation and leading the charity’s incredible volunteer team, with support from another recent arrival, Debs Grigg.
Debs too has an abundant interest in gardening. As well as being a fantastic administrator and events organiser, she is currently embarking on her Level 2 RHS course and as such will be a wonderful source of help to everyone enjoying the garden.
Of course, warmly welcoming Amy and Debs also means the charity are saying ‘goodbye’ to the current team, Head Gardener, Jacqui Martin-Löf, and Garden Administrator, Anna Lockwood.
Both Jacqui and Anna have been absolutely phenomenal in establishing Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville, ensuring that it has been an endless fountain of warmth and kindness for people adjusting to life-changing injuries and the NHS staff who work on the ward.
Together, they continued to work throughout lockdown to keep the garden open. This was essential for patients’ physical rehabilitation and mental health, particularly as the rest of the hospital was shut for their safety and as they were unable to see their families and friends. Similarly, the garden has offered every incredible NHS staff member the chance to briefly escape the increased pressures of the ward throughout these particularly difficult times.
Head Gardener Amy has nothing but praise for her predecessors, saying: ‘Jacqui and Anna have clearly had such a positive impact during their time here and in taking the reins now I hope to continue to help facilitate positivity and hope for many more patients with spinal injuries into the future.’
Whilst Jacqui will be leaving Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville to begin an aspirational new life establishing an animal sanctuary in Cornwall and Anna plans to concentrate on her career, the two will still be very much involved with the charity. Jacqui is going to continue as a part of the team, fulfilling her role as Head Gardeners Leader and meanwhile Anna is going to devote her free time to volunteering in the Stoke Mandeville garden.
The dedication and enthusiasm of Amy, Jacqui, Debs and Anna stands testament to the magic of Horatio’s Garden; once you’ve had the privilege of experiencing it, it’s impossible to be anything other than spellbound.
To discover more about Horatio’s Garden, please visit www.horatiosgarden.org.uk or follow @horatiosgarden on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.