The Royal Chelsea Flower Show

Submitted on Jun 5, 2024 by  Aunty Lou's House

A Girl Like Me blogger, Louise Vallace, at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a renowned garden show held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in Chelsea, London England. Held at Chelsea since 1912, the show is attended by members of the British royal family and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world, eager to see the latest in horticultural excellence and garden design.

The Terrence Higgins Trust is the largest HIV charity in Europe, of which I am proud to be a London Ambassador and Speaker. The Trust plays a crucial role in supporting individuals affected by HIV and in raising awareness about the condition.

One of the standout features of the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden. This garden, created by award-winning designer Matthew Childs, serves as a powerful symbol of the progress made in the fight against HIV since the 1980s. The design takes visitors on a journey through time, from the initial fear and stigma of the 1980s to the present day, where advancements in medicine allow people to live long, healthy lives without HIV holding them back.

During the show, I was honoured to be asked to speak at this significant event. In my talk, I used the metaphor of being a rose who turned into a cactus after receiving the news that I was HIV positive, and then started to bloom again. This metaphor illustrated my personal journey of transformation and resilience in the face of adversity.

Being part of such an event, which honours all those involved in the fight against HIV, was deeply moving.

The atmosphere was one of celebration and reflection, acknowledging both the progress made and the challenges that remain. During the event, there was a cellist playing beautiful music in the background. I took some time to think about everyone’s HIV journey, including my own. It was a moment of introspection, letting the garden and music wash over me as I reflected on my feelings when I first found out I had HIV and the many years of self-stigma that followed.

Now, I am finally in a position to advocate and be seen. I hope that my visibility gives those who find life challenging a sense of belonging and hope. I see you, and I want others to know that they are not alone.

By sharing our stories and supporting one another, we can continue to make strides towards a future where HIV is no longer a source of fear or discrimination. Love From Aunty Lou xx

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Submitted by Red40something

I'm always amazed at the different ways people can tell their own stories of life with HIV and see those stories reflected outward to others. I don't think a garden display would ever have occurred to me as an expression, and I love flowers! Thank you for sharing and for the ways you show up and tell women's stories! 

Submitted by boseolotu

"Aunty Lou, your personal story and metaphor are truly inspiring! 

As I read through your story, I can only imagine how powerful your talk must have been. Your strong passion and dedication to being a voice for the less privileged is truly admirable. 

This will undoubtedly inspire many people and go a long way in making a positive impact. Yes, we shall keep on thriving!!"

And congratulations on a successful event. 


Submitted by Marig2016

oh i loved this so much and it resonated with me so well! Growing up I had always had a love for dandelions, and not knowing what it meant in this movement it was something early on that i connected to my journey after receiving the news of being HIV positive. Other dont understand what it means or how it feels to receive the news of a diagnosis that science has advanced so much in yet the world, society and its views are still somewhere in the 80s. But for many its people like us, who choose to speak up, defy the odds and be changemakers that make all the difference. Our community is blessed to have you in our corner, in this fight for change <3 

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