Trailblazers praised in Kings Honours

Two women with strong Buckinghamshire connections have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours.

They are Karen Bonner and Dr Olivier Chapple.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s Chief Nurse, Karen has been awarded an MBE in recognition of her contribution to nursing.

Dr Olivia Chapple, founder and Chair of Trustees at Horatio’s Garden, has been recognised in the Birthday Honours list with an OBE for her exceptional services to charity.

Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville opened in September 2018 and was created by RHS Gold Medal winner and presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World, Joe Swift.

The garden is part of the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which is the largest centre in the UK.

Karen, pictured, has been a nurse for more than 30 years and is a descendant of the Windrush generation. Her father came to the UK in 1957 from Jamaica and her mother in 1965 from Barbados.

Karen’s mother had worked as a Nursing Aid at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, inspiring her to become a nurse.

From 2017 until 2021 Karen was a member of the National Health Service (NHS) Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) strategic advisory group and was highly commended by the Nursing Times in 2019 for her work in diversity and inclusion.

She was recognised by the Health Service Journal in 2021 and 2022 as one of the 50 most influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in health and one of the top 10 in 2023.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, Nursing Times recognised Karen as one of the 75 nurses who have positively shaped the NHS during the past 75 years.

Karen is also a trustee at Helpforce, which seeks to boost volunteering in health and social care and as a volunteer herself, Karen works with Prostate Cancer UK to educate and raise awareness of the disease.

Karen, Chief Nurse for the Trust, said: ‘I wanted to be a nurse as long as I could remember and I never considered another career. I am truly honoured to be Chief Nurse at the same Trust that my mum worked as a Nursing Aid and being recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours is truly humbling.’

Neil Macdonald, Trust CEO, said: ‘We are so proud to have Karen as part of our team. She thoroughly deserves this recognition, not only as a nurse but as an ambassador for all our colleagues and patients.’

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: ‘Karen has made an enormous contribution to the nursing profession over her 30 year career and I’m pleased to see her recognised with this award. Her work on diversity and inclusion, in particular, has had a huge impact, both locally and nationally.’

Dr Chapple has spearheaded the leadership of Horatio’s Garden charity, which creates and nurtures beautiful, fully accessible, garden projects across the UK to give vital places for reflection and adjustment for people who have experienced spinal injuries, their families and NHS staff.

Under her leadership there are now seven ground-breaking gardens across the UK with the charity’s mission to create one in the heart of all 11 NHS injury centres.

Dr Chapple said: ‘In the next five years, we hope to ensure that no-one with a spinal injury in the UK should have to spend months in hospital without being connected to nature.’

Victoria Holton, Trustee of Horatio’s Garden, who spent 19 months in hospital after a spinal injury, said: ‘Olivia’s trailblazing vision and passion to achieve a future where everyone with a spinal injury has access to the benefits of Horatio’s Garden has been boundless.

‘These extraordinary, beautiful and vibrant spaces have revolutionised people’s experience during their long hospital stays and are critical to the incredibly challenging process of coming to terms with a spinal injury. I’m so pleased to see Olivia’s tremendous service recognised.’

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.