East Durham College horticulture students, Ben Walker, Damian Unsworth and Jamie Fisher

Students Battle It Out In 2016 Young Horticulturist Of The Year Heats

East Durham College’s Houghall Campus has hosted the local heats of the 2016 Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) competition.

This first round of the prestigious national competition saw Houghall students compete in a multiple choice quiz to see who would come out on top and advance to the Northern England regional finals.

Houghall students have been successful in the competition in the past with former student Chris Parsons winning the 2014 national title.

Over 20 current Houghall students took to the site’s conference hall to battle it out in the first round of this year’s competition.

It was a closely fought contest with winner Damian Unsworth, who is on a level 2 diploma came first by just one point (23 points) to second place Ben Walker and third place Jamie Fisher who finished with 22 points.

Unfortunately Damian is unavailable to take part in the next round, so second place Ben Walker,23, from Pittington, will travel to the regional final, which will take place at Shipley College, West Yorkshire in March; where he will face a host of horticulture-related questions both in a buzzer format and asked one-to-one Mastermind style.

The winner of the regional final will then advance to the grand final, which is being held at Glasnevin, Dublin Botanic Gardens, on 7th May.

East Durham College horticulture lecture, Dave Scott, praised the students for their performances in the competition.

Dave said: “It’s great to see so many students want to get involved in this prestigious competition.

“Students from Houghall have done well in this competition in the past and it’s great to see our current students show great enthusiasm for it, we would love to have another student win the national title.

“Everyone performed really well on the day, and showed some great knowledge, even so early on in their horticulture courses, with most of the students involved only studying with us since September.”

The Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, open to young people under the age of 30, is forecast to be the biggest ever, with nearly 2,000 young horticulturists, who are either studying horticulture or working in the industry, taking part.

Prizes valued at more than £10,000 are on offer including the coveted Percy Thrower Travel Bursary of £2500, which is sponsored by the Shropshire Horticultural Society that is awarded for first place.

The initial heats are taking place across Great Britain and Ireland from early January until late February 2016.