North East Student Shines At Prestigious National Horticulture Competition

Thu, 2000-12-28 00:00

A north east student has recently won Silver at the nationally acclaimed Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition 2011.

Christopher Parsons, who is 19 and from Newton Aycliffe, recently took part in the Grand Final which was held at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate.

Parsons had to battle through local and regional heats to make the national final and was delighted to walk away with second place and a prize of £800.

The student who is studying on an HND in Arboriculture at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus and successful passed the National Certificate in Horticulture last year said: “It was an amazing experience. A lot of money had gone into the event from the sponsors, it was a really big thing. I was very nervous at all the stages but I managed to keep my cool and get into the final. I’m really happy with winning second place.”

The competition, now in its 22nd year, was open to any horticulturist below the age of 30 and saw almost 2,000 students from around Britain and Ireland battle it out to try and make the last eight and the Grand Final.

The finals were watched by an audience of 60 including the main competition sponsors, Brian and Daphne Goodwinn of the Shropshire Horticultural Society, Peter Hunt from Recruitment Specialists MorePeople and Ian Ashton, Board Member of the Horticultural Development Company.

Christopher, who was one of the youngest finalists, battled hard but was narrowly beaten to the prestigious title by Suzanne Moss, a student at RHS Garden Wisley.

Ann Kirkham, Percy Thrower’s daughter, was once again able to attend and presented Christopher and the other finalists with their prizes.

Susan Minter, President of the Institute of Horticulture, added: “This year's Grand Final was the second time in succession that a woman has emerged as the winner but it was close, within two points up until the final two rounds. The immense variety of things horticulturists are expected to know never ceases to amaze me and I am sure would impress the general public if this was a Gardeners’ Question Time.”

As well as studying at East Durham College Christopher does voluntary work at the Botanic Garden in Durham two days a week to further enhance his knowledge and practical skills.

In August Christopher is relocating to London for a one year traineeship at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of world’s leading botanic gardens.

“I’m really thrilled to have got the traineeship at somewhere as prestigious as Kew and I hope the experience will help me towards my ultimate ambition of becoming a Head Gardener at a botanical garden or a stately home,” Christopher added.