Horatio's Garden founder Olivia Chapple awarded OBE

Dr Olivia Chapple and her son Horatio, who inspired the charity

The founder of Wiltshire-based charity Horatio's Garden, has been awarded an OBE for services to people with spinal injuries.

Dr Olivia Chapple set up the charity to create accessible and beautiful spaces at spinal injury units, following the tragic death of her eldest son in 2011.

Horatio, 17, died after being attacked by a polar bear while on a school expedition to Svaalbard.

Horatio died aged 17 during an expedition to Svaalbard

He had wanted to become a doctor, and while volunteering at Salisbury District Hospital, realised patients were crying out for tranquil outside space, to alleviate the long months of recovery and rehabilitation.

So in 2012, Olivia with her husband David set up the charity Horatio’s Garden, creating and nurturing beautiful, fully accessible, garden projects across the UK to give vital places for reflection and adjustment for people who have experienced spinal injuries, their families and NHS staff.

Olivia with Mary Berry at the opening of Horatio's Garden at Stoke Mandeville

The latest is in Northern Ireland, officially opened on the day the honour was announced.

Commenting on the OBE, Dr Olivia Chapple said: “There are so many people who share in this honour but I devote it to Horatio, whose immense courage and kindness infuses me every day.

"He was ahead of his time when he realised how gardens could be essential places for people with spinal injuries going through the most difficult of times.

"Today, because of Horatio’s research and vision, we are supporting thousands of people.

"In the next five years, we hope to ensure that no-one with a spinal injury in the UK should have to spend months in hospital without being connected to nature.”

Horatio's Garden in Salisbury was the first to open

Victoria Holton, Trustee of Horatio’s Garden who spent 19 months in hospital after a spinal injury before there was a Horatio’s Garden said: “Olivia’s trailblazing vision and passion to achieve a future where everyone with a spinal injury has access to the benefits of Horatio’s Garden has been boundless.

"These extraordinary, beautiful and vibrant spaces have revolutionised people’s experience during their long hospital stays and are critical to the incredibly challenging process of coming to terms with a spinal injury."

Melanie Reid MBE FRSE, Ambassador of Horatio’s Garden and writer for the Times said: “It’s hard to overstate what Olivia Chapple has done for the physical and mental wellbeing of people traumatised by spinal injury.

"Horatio’s Gardens at the UK’s spinal units are beautiful green sanctuaries where patients and their families can find peace, privacy and healing.

"Nor should we forget that this extraordinary achievement was born from Olivia’s own tragedy in losing her son.”

Horatio’s Garden has now started work on its eighth garden at The Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, one year exactly since it began its life as the Best in Show winning garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, supported by Project Giving Back.