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RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2018 winners announced

  • Shropshire fifteen-year-old crowned RHS Young School Gardener of the Year
  • London secondary school wins RHS School Gardening Team of the Year
  • Norfolk teacher named RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year

Secondary schools have come out on top in this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

Celebrating the passion and creativity in gardening, the competition shines a light on the powerful impact that gardening can have on children’s learning, development and wellbeing.

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Ellie Micklewright

This year’s winners, chosen by a panel of judges from nearly 200 nominations are:

  • RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2018: Ellie Micklewright, Newport Girls’ HighSchool Academy Trust, Newport, Shropshire
    Skilled 15-year-old gardener Ellie started her school’s gardening club from scratch, galvanising an army of 40 students and staff to transform the school’s grounds. As well as researching, planning and designing the garden Ellie also secured funding from local businesses to help create wildlife habitats, a sensory zone and an orchard.
  • RHS School Gardening Team of the Year 2018: St Gregory’s Catholic Science College, Harrow, London
    A team of 13-15 year olds have designed and built an outdoor learning environment on a patch of land originally earmarked for a staff car park extension. For many of the school’s pupils the garden serves as their only connection with nature, inspiring lessons across the curriculum and campaigns to raise awareness of environmental issues such as reducing plastic use. Organic crops are also grown and the team maintain a large community flower bed at the entrance to the local park.
  • RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year 2018: Matt Willer, Reepham HighSchool & College, Reepham, Norfolk
    History teacher Matt launched ‘The Allotment Project’ in 2015 on an abandoned corner of the school playing field. Hundreds of children and young people now volunteer, devoting their spare time to growing organic produce for the school’s kitchen and turning sinks, car tyres and bath tubs into growing containers. Matt takes a back to basics approach to maintenance – with grass cutting done by sickle and scythe.

Frances Tophill, BBC Gardeners’ World presenter and judge said: “This year’s winners prove the appeal of gardening for teens – whether it’s to boost wellbeing, learn valuable life skills or open up career opportunities such as paving the way for tomorrow’s conservationists. The determination, vision and hard work they’ve shown is nothing short of miraculous.”

Alana Cama, RHS skills development manager said: “It’s so encouraging to see secondary schools sweeping the board in this year’s competition as, often, the pressure of exams and grades means fewer students over the age of 12 spending time in the garden. It just shows that with a little perseverance students like Ellie, groups like St Gregory’s, or teachers like Matt – a full time teacher teaching GCSE and A Level History – can reap the benefits of the outdoors.”

The winners and finalists of each category will attend an awards ceremony at RHS Garden Wisley on Saturday 23 June. The winner of School Gardening Team of the Year will receive a prize giving visit later in the year.

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Pupils Patrick Wilson, and Sofia Magpuyo of St Gregory’s Catholic Science College

RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2018 is supported by greenhouse manufacturer Gabriel Ash and the company has donated a cedar greenhouse to the winning School Gardening Team of the Year, along with coldframes for all other winners and finalists. Additional prizes include a visit to the three category winners from Frances Tophill, as well as tools and National Garden Gift Vouchers.

The RHS competition forms part of the RHS Campaign for ‘School Gardening’ which aims to get young people gardening by providing free resources and advice: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening

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