Meet Lillian – a volunteer with the charity Horatio’s Garden. The charity works to create and nurture beautiful garden spaces in NHS spinal centres to support everyone affected by spinal injury. Scotland’s National Spinal Injuries Unit is based at The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital here in Glasgow.
The garden was created by acclaimed garden designer and RHS judge, James Alexander Sinclair and has been open since 2016. Volunteers work under the supervision of Sallie, the project leader, and grow a wide variety of beautiful flowers for patients to enjoy when they are outside. Flowers are cut, arranged and placed on the bedside table of every patient. This brightens up the indoor environment and gives volunteers opportunities to strike up conversations with individuals within the unit.
Lillian has only been volunteering with Horatio’s Garden for a few months – but – in Lillian’s words – “It’s been an amazing few months”.
“My first encounter with patients was very humbling. The first person I met was a lovely gentleman I encountered whilst filling and placing vases of daffodils in the unit. I placed one on the gentleman’s table and in a very quiet voice he asked me if I could turn one of the daffodils towards him so that he could sit and watch it as it was different from the rest.
My reaction was this poor man can’t turn a flower towards himself. Believe me I was so honoured to do this for him.
Then I met a lady in the corridor. She was a wee gem. I asked her if she would like to help with arranging the flowers.
She was over the moon!
She was so thankful and pleased that when we had finished she told me that helping out made her feel good and she felt good passing the time in such a positive way.
Volunteering in Horatio’s Garden has brought home to me that none of us realize how very lucky we are in this world until me meet people in situations like these.
The patients have also been saying it’s just lovely to look out of the window and see the different array of colours. They enjoy seeing all the volunteers working away.
So being part of Horatio’s Garden is worth its weight in gold, especially when you hear a patient and their family saying how much pleasure the garden brings them.
It helps them cope just a little bit better with being in the hospital for long periods of time and for the vast change in their lives.
Every staff member and volunteer at Horatio’s Garden is extremely proud of what we achieve – and we undertake every task with a happy heart – knowing that we are brightening someone else’s life.”