The National Park Authority’s newest ranger has joined a team of seasoned landscapers and horticulturalists in London, to help create the Welcome to Yorkshire show-garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
24-year-old Tom Hickey from Earby landed his access ranger job this month, after spending two years gaining a wealth of practical skills and experience through a Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) Rural Apprenticeship, supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
This week he is helping to build a show garden inspired by his home turf, and which has been sponsored by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).
The garden promises to bring the sights, smells and tastes of the Yorkshire Dales to a global audience. It will feature woodland, lush pastures, a cultivated cottage garden, flowing beck and a stone bothy.
New access ranger, Tom said: “Working in the Yorkshire Dales I had expectations of what the garden may look like, but this goes beyond that. It incorporates man-made features including traditional dry stone walls, a stone barn and weighted hand gate, with the natural features of bubbling streams and meadows you would find on the fell sides.
“Working with the team at Chelsea is a great experience. Aside from being fantastic to work alongside, the team have a brilliant knowledge of the Dales and have used their expertise and finesse to build a landscape that would fit perfectly in the National Park.”
Tom was invited to join the show-garden team by the designer, Mark Gregory.
Mark, managing director of Landform Consultants, said: “I am very proud of my Yorkshire roots, so creating the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden is an incredible honour. When I heard about the work of Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, I got in touch to see if a young and enthusiastic apprentice could benefit from being involved in the construction and the planting of our Chelsea garden. I really hope Tom enjoys the experience.”
YDNPA chief executive, David Butterworth, said: “The ‘Yorkshire Garden’ has been a feature at the Chelsea Flower Show for the past eight years. This year I think the garden is going to be particularly special, because it has been inspired by the very best of Yorkshire – the Yorkshire Dales.
“We were pleased to become one of the sponsors for the show-garden, as it will keep the Yorkshire Dales in the public eye at a time when growing visitor numbers is a priority. It’s even better that one of our own staff is on site to help create it. Tom Hickey is the latest in a line of top notch rangers to emerge from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s Rural Apprenticeship programme.”
Jo Boulter, apprenticeship co-ordinator at YDMT said: “Tom has really thrown himself into his access ranger apprenticeship and made the most of all the opportunities on offer. It’s been great to see him gaining skills and confidence, and we are thrilled that Tom now has this exciting chance to go to Chelsea Flower Show and put some of those skills to use, working with an experienced team on such a high profile project.
“The Apprenticeship scheme has been a life-changing opportunity for many of the young people taking part. Some are now working in permanent roles for their employer, such as Tom, while others have used their skills and experience to get jobs with organisations in a similar field, or gone on to higher education.”
YDMT has more exciting training opportunities available for young people interested in a career in environmental conservation and countryside management. Starting in summer 2018, the Dales & Fells Rural Apprenticeship scheme offers two years on-the-job experience, complemented by college studies and other certified skills. Visit www.ydmt.org/environmental-apprenticeships for more information.
These opportunities are provided by YDMT through the Green Futures programme; one of 31 Our Bright Future projects across the country. Each one is equipping 11-24 year olds to make a difference in their local community and for the environment. Our Bright Future is a £33m programme funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.