Green fingered therapist returns from his travels


A horticultural practitioner at the Trust has returned from his travels to Canada and the United States, after being awarded a place on the prestigious Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship 2013.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Travelling Fellowship awards travel grants to British citizens from all walks of life, to enable them to acquire knowledge and experience abroad for the benefit of others in their profession and community in the UK. In the process, they gain a better understanding of the lives and cultures of people overseas.

To further his knowledge and understanding Richard Brown, who works at the Horizon Centre- a learning disability service in Wakefield, spent a month in Ontario, Canada, and Chicago and Michigan in the USA to explore the use of horticultural therapy as a medical treatment.

Richard’s role at the Trust involves using the practice of gardening as therapy to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Horticultural therapists are specially educated and trained members of treatment and rehabilitation teams who help get service users involved in all phases of gardening as a means of bringing about improvement in their life.

The Farm at St. Joe’s in Arbor, Michigan.
The Farm at St. Joe’s in Arbor, Michigan.

During his time there Richard met world-leading experts in horticultural therapy and attended the 40th annual American Horticultural Therapy Conference in Minneapolis. He also visited the Chicago Botanic Garden, a world leader in the professional education and delivery of horticultural therapy, the Niagara Botanical Gardens in Ontario, Canada and Detroit Urban Farms.

Richard said, “Being able to spend two days with the staff at Chicago Botanic was an honour. Chicago Botanic is the home of the first and largest accessible garden, The Buehler Enabling Garden. I was fortunate enough to go ‘behind the scenes’ and see the original Enabling Garden before the Buehler was created, which is soon to be built on. They also run horticultural therapy programmes on-site and at external services as well as teaching horticultural therapy qualifications.”

At the same time as improving his own knowledge and insight into horticultural therapy, Richard was able to work to raise the profile of the Horizon Centre as a multi-disciplinary specialist service and the Trust.

Richard said, “This was a great opportunity for me to further my knowledge of how horticulture is being used in different countries at the same time as looking at how we might progress its use across the Trust. It was a very interesting few weeks and I saw and learnt a lot. I discovered that as an organisation we are also very good at what we do in horticultural therapy and not far off some of the most acknowledged horticultural therapy organisations/ projects in the world. The Trust already uses horticultural therapy to support people’s care and we see every day the benefits this brings to people. I hope to able to use this trip to further the work across the organisation and in the communities we serve.”

Richard will now produce a report on his findings to share with the Winston Churchill Trust as well as staff across the Trust.

To find out more about Richard’s travel fellowship visit his personal blog at

Green fingered therapist returns from his travels

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