In 2012 a stroke didn’t just rob Stuart of movement and sight, it threatened to take away the freedom to enjoy the hobbies he loved.

In 2012 a stroke didn’t just rob Stuart of movement and sight, it threatened to take away the freedom to enjoy the hobbies he loved.


Life before stroke was full of activity for Stuart. He enjoyed motorbikes, playing badminton and was very active in the garden. Left unable to stand, walk and use his left hand, his sight was also badly affected and it seemed at first as though his days as a keen gardener might be over.


That was until Stuart was introduced to Thrive. The “Life after Stroke” programme at Thrive Birmingham is a 12-week course with a practical focus on learning new ways to tackle everything from propagation and potting on to pruning shrubs, harvesting fruit and creating hanging baskets. Being in a wheelchair didn’t stop Stuart from doing all of it!


Working alongside a trained Horticultural Therapist who has the insight and knowledge to work to the strengths of the individual, the group are shown completely different techniques for a myriad of gardening tasks each week. They are also encouraged to log their achievements to use as a reference for working at home.


“I now feel inspired to help my wife create a beautiful garden at home which we are adding new things to on a weekly basis. I’m also hoping to get back in touch with old friends as I now have something other than my stroke to talk about.”


For Stuart, Thrive represents so much more than purely gardening activity. It’s an opportunity to meet people and build friendships, a chance to enjoy beautiful surroundings and work as part of a team. Most importantly perhaps, he says he now feels able to try things out and not give up at the first hurdle.


“The team at Thrive helped me realise that the stroke is over, but life isn’t.”



Debbie is Stus Horticultural Therapist

“When I first met Stu he was keen to learn adaptive techniques that would enable him to overcome the effects of his stroke, but had lost some motivation along with his movement and sight. In particular, propagation, potting-on and pruning were a challenge and we worked together to find creative solutions so that Stu could do as much as possible himself.

Over the 12 week course I saw Stu’s enthusiasm for gardening and his ability increase each week. Listening to Stu explain what he had achieved in his own garden and that of his daughter, he readily acknowledged that it was giving him more than just tasks to do, but also opening up new conversations with his family, friends and neighbours.

“Thrive was much more than just a gardening activity. It gave me the opportunity to meet lovely people and a valid reason to work in beautiful surroundings. Friendship and participating were highly encouraged. It made me feel so happy, I looked forward to each session.

Stu has since told me that gardening is now strengthening the bond with his grandchild. Working together out in the sunshine, passing on what he knows and doing gardening tasks together……proof, if needed, that gardening therapy really works and there is more to it than meets the eye!”


We #GardenTag YOU to tell us why gardening makes YOU happy, and to donate to Thrive today to help others like Nicole.

Click here to donate online

To donate by text, text THRI53 and your donation amount to 70070.

Here are examples of how your donation could help:

£20 can buy boots for a Thrive gardener

£35 can buy garden therapy starter packs including tools and seeds

£60 can pay for a therapeutic gardening session at Thrive

£100 can fund a recognised horticultural qualification