Colonel Sally Coulthard (retired) was a reservist army officer whose 40-year military career spanned regular service, part time and full-time reserve service, as well as ten years working on retraining programmes for unemployed service personnel for the Royal British Legion. She has worked predominantly in military education and training and latterly personnel strategy and policy, with an interest in cross government programmes for resettling personnel, specifically those that are wounded, injured and sick.
Colonel Coulthard’s interest in horticultural therapy started in the summer of 2017 during a visit to Blossoms at Larne, in Northern Ireland, which became a catalyst to research Nature Based Therapy. In September 2017, she enrolled on the MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture at Coventry University, where she discovered a nature-based approach could offer real and tangible benefits to armed forces personnel that require mental health care support, whether for common mental health disorders (CMD), such as anxiety and depression, or more complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2019, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to USA and Denmark to investigate horticultural therapy for armed forces personnel with mental health issues. Her resulting Fellowship report, The Defence Gardens Scheme, is developing a network of veterans-friendly gardens in the UK.