Dr Olivia Chapple awarded an OBE

The founder and Chair of Trustees at Horatio’s Garden, Dr Olivia Chapple, has today been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours list with an OBE for her exceptional services to charity.

Dr Olivia Chapple OBE EMH in Horatio's Garden Northern Ireland
credit: Jonathan Jones

In 2012, Olivia Chapple and 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. The charity is a legacy to her eldest son, Horatio an aspiring doctor, whose research identified the need for a garden for patients in the NHS spinal injury centre where he was a volunteer.

The honour is awarded on the same day as the official opening of Horatio’s Garden in Northern Ireland. Under Chapple’s leadership there are now seven ground-breaking gardens across the UK with the charity’s mission to create one in the heart of all 11 NHS injury centres.

Commenting on the OBE, she 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.”

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. I’m so pleased to see Olivia’s tremendous service recognised.”

James Alexander-Sinclair, RHS Vice President, Horatio’s Garden Scotland designer and Horatio’s Garden Trustee said: “Olivia Chapple is an indefatigable champion for the power of gardens and this honour is richly deserved. “Her extraordinary leadership and inspiration in creating gardens for those affected by spinal injury has brought light and joy into the lives of thousands of people – patients, families, staff and visitors. Many, many congratulations.”

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.”

Professor Paul Fish, Chief Executive of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore said: “What Olivia has done is really change the conversation around how important green spaces are for the rehabilitation of patients. Every day we see the effect of having Horatio’s Garden at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital – not just for our patients but also for our staff. I am delighted for her.”

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.