By: 23 May 2024
Dr Olivia Chapple is awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Medal of Honour by the RHS

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has presented the prestigious Elizabeth Medal of Honour to Dr Olivia Chapple, founder and Chair of Trustees at Horatio’s Garden. At a ceremony at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Olivia received the award from Keith Weed, President of the RHS.

The Elizabeth Medal of Honour (EMH) is the highest RHS honour for UK non-horticulturalists that have significantly impacted the advancement of the science, art or practice of horticulture for the benefit of all generations and the environment.

The Elizabeth Medal of Honour was established in 2023 in remembrance of the late Queen Elizabeth II. In recognition of the duration of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, only 70 medals will be held at any one time. Olivia’s Elizabeth Medal of Honour is a conversion of her RHS Carew Pole Award, awarded in 2021 and is now the RHS Carew Pole Community Award.

Dr Olivia Chapple said: When we started twelve years ago there was such little recognition of how important gardens are for rehabilitation. But today the effect of green spaces on how people can begin to come to terms with life changing events is well documented. I’m so proud that Horatio recognised the need for spaces for people with spinal injuries and their families and also staff – this award is really in recognition of that vision and how we have grown today to deliver seven groundbreaking extraordinary gardens with four more to come.

James Alexander-Sinclair, RHS Vice President, Horatio’s Garden Scotland designer and Horatio’s Garden Trustee said: Seldom has an award been more richly deserved than the EMH given to Olivia Chapple by the RHS. She is an indefatigable champion for the power of gardens.

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 saidIts hard to overstate what Olivia Chapple has done for the physical and mental wellbeing of people traumatised by spinal injury. Horatios Gardens at the UKs 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 Olivias 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. This award is a really important recognition of the importance of the work of the charity.

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.