Garden at Salisbury hospital designed by late teen helps hundreds of spinal injury patients

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth

The legacy of a teenager who died aged 17 lives on through a garden he designed for spinal injury patients at Salisbury District Hospital.

The garden, which opened ten years ago, was the brainchild of schoolboy Horatio Chapple, who volunteered at the spinal injuries unit where patients told him they were desperate for outdoor space.

He recognised that spinal injury patients were often in hospital for months and needed outdoor space in which to recuperate.

The teen was keen to be a doctor but was tragically killed aged just 17, during a polar bear attack in Svalbard.

However, from his research his family were able to realise his vision and transform a patch of land into the charity's first therapeutic garden.

Since then the garden has gone on to help hundreds of spinal injury patients with six more 'Horatio's Gardens' opening over the years, including one at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire.

Pete Reed, a hugely successful rower and winner of three Olympic golds and an MBE, has benefitted from the garden.

His world changed when he suffered a spinal stroke three years ago, leaving him paralysed.

He explained: "As soon as you get injured and have this big life-changer, you hand your body over to the medical teams in every respect but then bit by bit over time you start clawing your identity back.

"Suddenly you come down and you've got flowers and sunlight and other people and classes and jokes.

"You realise that life isn't just about a bed, a bedpan and a catheter and all the other horrible bits and pieces."

Horatio recognised that spinal injury patients were often in hospital for months and needed outdoor space in which to recuperate. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Ann Stone from Hampshire was paralysed from the neck down after an accident.

Doctors feared she would never walk again but she defied the odds and thinks the garden played a huge part.

She said: "It was just such a making of my rehab, definitely.

"To come down here with the volunteers and they say 'Look at You' and you've done something extra whatever it is - you're standing out of the wheelchair as opposed to just being able to only sit in it. It's been fab for me. What Horatio started was a huge thing."

The charity hopes to build gardens at all 11 of the UK's spinal Injuries units staffed by an army of volunteers.

They offer not just space for patients and their families, but physical exercise and practical skills.

Olivia Chapple, Horatio's mother, said: "I know that Horatio would be so thrilled with how it's all panning out.

"His life is continuing to make a difference to people and that's hugely helpful as a grieving family to be able to do that."