Chris Parsons is the Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014
Chris Parsons, a self-employed gardener from County Durham, has won the much sought after and nationally acclaimed Institute of Horticulture 2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year competition (YHoY) at the Grand Final, held at the John Innes Centre, Norwich.
He wins the coveted £2,000 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society.
After the competition, Chris said “The YHoY competition has been brilliant and over the last four years that I have entered I have met some excellent like-minded people from all over the country. The competition this year was exceptionally strong. The mountains of Vietnam and Taiwan both seem to be botanically very interesting and are places that I may consider visiting with my travel bursary.”
The contestants from the Institute’s eight branches battled it out in front of an audience of 79 supporters from across the industry, including the national competition sponsors; Aubrey Kirkham and his wife Ann, representing the Shropshire Horticultural Society, Peter Hunt from MorePeople and Ryan Simpson from The Garden Centre Group. All contestants won cash prizes, a year’s free membership of the Institute of Horticulture and a print of Sunrise on Thurne Dykein Norfolk.
The competition, now in its 25th year, has seen nearly 2,000 students from across Britain and Ireland taking part in local heats and regional finals over recent months. For the lucky eight contestants it was a hard slog to reach the Grand Final, having answered 40 questions in the heats, as well as upwards of 40 questions across every aspect of horticulture in their regional finals. They also had to cope with tough plant and pest and disease identification rounds to secure their places in last Saturday’s Grand Final.
David Domoney FI Hort, the Grand Final Question Master said, after the competition, “I had an amazing day at the John Innes Centre in Norwich for the Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition. The leading lights of the young horticultural industry locked horns to fight it out and find the winner. It was an absolute pleasure to be the Question Master and I found it just as exciting as the contestants. The audience were fantastic and the room was electric throughout…..If this is a test of the quality of the young talent coming up in the industry, it’s incredibly promising for the future of horticulture.”
Leigh Morris FI Hort, President, Institute of Horticulture said “My warmest congratulations go to all eight finalists, who all achieved so much to get to the Grand Final, and particularly Chris Parsons, from the Northern Branch, who won the day and became Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014! It was the 3rd year Chris has reached the Grand Final and the experience of two previous near misses helped him to victory.”
Donna Hamer, Chairman of the Shropshire Horticultural Society said “The Society is extremely conscious of the great importance of ensuring the continued development of horticulture in the future. As such the Shropshire Horticulture Society is very proud to be associated with the Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition and to support and nurture a wealth of talent and knowledge. We offer Chris Parsons our congratulations and wish him every success in his future career.”
The 2014 finalists, from the eight Institute of Horticulture branches were:
1st place – Chris Parsons – Self-employed gardener, representing the Northern Branch;
Runner-up – Jess Evans – National Trust (Tintinhull), representing the South West branch;
3rd place – Kristina Vandenberg – student of the RHS Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture, Wisley, representing the South East branch;
Guy Jones – Owner of Emotive Landscapes, representing the Midlands and South Wales branch;
Rosie Kippen – BSc (Hons) student at Writtle College and Nursery Assistant, representing the Eastern branch;
Lachlan Rae – student, HNDin Horticulture with Plantsmanship, at SRUC Edinburgh and RoyalBotanic Garden Edinburgh representing the Scotland branch;
Stephen Walsh – student at Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, representing the Ireland branch;
Lawrence Wright – student gardener, Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme, at Chatsworth House,representing the North West and North Wales branch.
Last year’s winner, Jez Stamp is due to take up his £2,000 Travel Bursary later this year. On his return he will produce a report about his trip which will be published in a future volume of the Institute’s quarterly Journal, The Horticulturist.
Anyone interested in taking part in, or sponsoring, the 2015 competition should contact the Institute of Horticulture – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute is grateful for the support from our national sponsors for the 2014 competition; The Shropshire Horticultural Society is the major sponsor of the competition, who through the Percy Thrower Trust, provide the Travel Bursary prize for the winner and also the considerable sponsorship of the Grand Final. 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the Institute of Horticulture and the Percy Thrower Trust. The other National sponsors for the 2014 competition are the recruitment company MorePeople, the R&D levy body the Horticultural Development Company (HDC), The Garden Centre Group and Bulldog Tools. There are also many regional and local sponsors.