Helping our heroes at Headley Court | Love The Garden

Helping our heroes at Headley Court

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)
A Soldier Watering a Plant

Guardsman Lamin Manneh potting up seedlings into Miracle-Gro compost at Headley Court
Aaron Moon and Tristan Sykes planting up Tomorite Giant Planters at Headley Court

Scotts is helping our heroes – sowing the seeds of recovery. We are providing composts and other planting media, as well as growing help and advice, for the new Walled Garden Project at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Headley Court.

Our involvement is helping to establish horticultural therapy as part of the rehabilitation process. This new gardening project provides occupational therapy for convalescing troops. Medical evidence shows that horticulture provides physical, neurological, cognitive and psychological rehabilitation, testing patients’ motor skills, plus their strength and endurance.

Horticultural therapy – the background

A newly refurbished greenhouse and allotment area will challenge patients with complex poly-traumatic injuries. They will have to overcome the challenges of working at different heights, standing on varying slopes and surfaces, as well as lifting and moving objects.

Major Peter Le Feuvre

The gardening tasks will also provide cognitive therapy for troops, since medical evidence suggests that being in an outdoor environment reduces stress, leading to improved concentration and it helps individuals think through their problems or concerns.


Major Peter Le Feuvre, a physiotherapist at Headley Court and a keen gardener, said: “At Headley Court we are developing our own little Chelsea flower garden by encouraging rehabilitation through horticultural therapy. We’ve put down the roots to encourage patients to experience different activities, which all aids the rehabilitation from their injuries. The addition of the allotment will compliment the greenhouses. We are also linking the project to our woodwork shop, so injured personnel can embark on building outdoor structures and planters as well as propagating and planting out.”

“This project causes people to interact with nature and involve themselves in the creative process of growing. Through this they experience recovery and gain hope for the future. We are extremely grateful to Scotts for their support by providing essential gardening products. The support Scotts has given has enabled this project to grow and flourish. The company’s ongoing support will ensure that this project can continue to aid the recovery of our brave Service personnel.”

“The Walled Garden Project will let recovering troops acquire and develop their skills. If required, it will also enable them to explore vocational options for the future.”

Horticultural therapy – the reality

Capt Jelinek, who was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 and suffered a fractured pelvis and spinal cord injury, said: “Horticultural therapy offers us, the patients, the opportunity to partake in a fulfilling activity and one which is also very relevant to our rehab, whatever our injuries.”

“For me, this project will help me regain strength and mobility in my back and legs. It will also test my balance and endurance. I find the outdoors a very relaxing and fulfilling place to be, so the time passes quickly and I feel better for it.”

DMRC Headley Court is situated close to Epsom in Surrey. To find out more about Headley Court, visit the Headley Court website.


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