Cyclists arrive in Shropshire in support of gardens at spinal injuries centres

A group of intrepid cyclists are making their way across the British Isles, to visit 11 Spinal Injury Centres, over 11 consecutive days, including one in Shropshire.

Cyclists from left, Robin Butler, Mortimer McKechnie, Olivia Caplan, Toby Morgan-Glenville, Titus Chapple
Cyclists from left, Robin Butler, Mortimer McKechnie, Olivia Caplan, Toby Morgan-Glenville, Titus Chapple

The team arrived in Horatio’s Garden Midlands, in the grounds of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry, on Monday, the seventh day of their adventure.

Located at the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries, Horatio’s Garden Midlands was designed by six-time RHS Chelsea Gold Medal winner and BBC Gardeners’ Question Time panelist Bunny Guinness. Since opening in 2019, it has supported thousands of people affected by spinal cord injury from right across the Midlands both throughout, and beyond, their time in hospital.

The cyclists are raising money for Horatio’s Garden, a charity that creates, installs and cares for beautiful gardens in NHS spinal injury centres across the UK. The charity is named after Horatio Chapple who was tragically killed on an expedition in Svalbard aged 17. He carried out work experience at the spinal injuries unit in Salisbury and sowed the seed of the idea to have a garden there.

The team taking on the mammoth task of cycling to all 11 NHS spinal injury centres in the UK comprises Horatio’s brother, Titus Chapple, Toby Morgan-Grenville, a former patient at The Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury, Horatio’s best friend Robin Butler, Olivia Caplan and Mortimer McKechnie.

Covering 1,100 miles, they will finally arrive at The Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury District Hospital on Thursday.

Sponsored by Red Savannah, Sturgeon Capital and Cogent, the aim is to raise £50,000 to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the first Horatio’s Garden being created at the Spinal Treatment Centre in Salisbury.

Titus Chapple, said: “I am so proud of what my parents have achieved in memory of my brother Horatio. The cycle challenge is a big undertaking, but I am delighted to be taking part to help raise funds for future Horatio’s Gardens across the country, giving more people living with spinal injury access to these beautiful sanctuaries. I know Horatio will be watching our backs and encouraging us all the way.”

The team’s aim is to highlight the specialist needs of patients with spinal cord injuries and the centres of excellence where they are cared for. A spinal injury can happen to anyone at any age and after the life-changing event, patients often spend six months or more in the Formica world of an NHS hospital. Everyone is in shock after the trauma – not only the patient themselves, but also their family and friends. Dreams and hopes for the future are shattered and everyone is going through a psychologically challenging time.

Now in six of the UK’s spinal injury centres, each Horatio’s Garden is evidence-based to improve psychological, physical and emotional outcomes for patients and their families. They also improve NHS staff’s enjoyment of their job, wellbeing and even recruitment and retention.

Every garden is funded entirely by voluntary donations. The money the cycle team raises will be vital in helping to ensure people affected by spinal cord injury right across the UK are supported throughout, and beyond, their time in hospital.

Cycle team member Toby Morgan-Grenville said: “I was a patient at The Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre (the location of the original Horatio’s Garden) in 2017 after suddenly suffering paralysis from my chest down due to a rare spinal growth.

"I got to experience just how incredibly valuable the gardens are for both recovery and for friends and family. Rehabilitation for spinal injuries is an incredibly tough ordeal, which takes a huge toll on people’s mental health as well as the physical. Horatio’s Garden provided sanctuary to both myself and my family.”

To support the 11-day Horatio’s Cycle challenge, visit horatiosgarden.org.uk/horatioscycle and follow the journey on Instagram at @horatioscycle.

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