Florists take top prizes at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Our floristry students have continued to prove they are among the nation’s best by taking top awards at this week’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the world’s most prestigious flower show.

Catching up with Elizabeth Murray, NPTC Level 4 Higher Diploma in Floristry, 2013

Elizabeth Murray Level 4 floristry alumnus editA practising solicitor, Elizabeth combines her daytime career with her passion for floral design.

Introduced to floristry through a Saturday leisure course offered by our Floristry Department, Elizabeth was so inspired that she continued learning on our beginners, intermediate and advanced level NOCN evening classes.

She then progressed onto the professionally recognised City & Guilds Levels 2 and 3 Diplomas and in 2013 achieved her Level 4 Higher Diploma – one of the most advanced qualifications available.

Elizabeth has found that her love of flowers, coupled with the inspiration and training offered by our lecturers, has opened doors to a whole new world.

Now, Elizabeth’s primary floral passion is the art and philosophy of Ikebana – Japanese flower arranging She has  gained her Associate Second Master’s certificate with the Ohara School of Ikebana, and is one of only a handful of English people to achieve this level. Elizabeth teaches Ohara Ikebana in London to students of all nationalities, including several who fly to London from overseas to attend her classes.

Busy Elizabeth is also President of the Manchester Chapter of Ikebana International and Vice-President of the England Chapter of the Ohara School of Ikebana.

“My journey has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every one of my courses at Reaseheath. They have all helped to foster and pull together my interest in floral design.”

Florists enjoy demonstration by leading expert

Floristry students had the chance to learn from a leading expert when Diane Fair,  an international floral demonstrator for the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS), gave a demonstration in our historic Old Hall.

During her demonstration Diane, who is also a qualified floristry judge and an award winning competitor at local and national level, created six contemporary and traditional floral designs. She also gave our students tips for their future careers. Students on both full time and leisure courses attended the event, gaining first hand knowledge of how a professional demonstration is organised.

This was the first time Diane had used a college as a venue, but not the first time she had visited our campus. She launched her floristry career  as a competitor at a Young Farmers Rally at Reaseheath!

Said Diane: “It was lovely to be joined by so many keen young people and a great chance to tell them about the many opportunities in the industry.”

Reaseheath College welcomes royal visitor at Cheshire Show

Reaseheath College gave Sophie, Countess of Wessex, a right royal welcome when she visited the college’s award winning stand at the Cheshire Show earlier this week (June 23 and 24)

Her Royal Highness, who is Cheshire Show President, spent 20 minutes chatting to staff and students and inspecting the stand’s activities. She particularly admired Reaseheath’s mechanical horse and a pizza oven built by construction students and was keen to find out more about apprenticeships.

Stand organiser Stephanie Owen said: “The Countess seemed to be very knowledgeable and supportive of landbased industries and asked a lot of pertinent questions about our work with rural businesses. She seemed very natural and was obviously enjoying carrying out her duties at the show.”

The Nantwich college’s visitor friendly stand had earlier taken the top award in the education section, with judge Marie Birkenhead paying tribute to the range of activities on offer and the enthusiastic and well informed staff.

Mrs Birkenhead said: “Reaseheath College’s stand was far and away the best exhibit in its section and really met the criteria, which is to educate and inform visitors about the countryside. We were impressed with the attractive display offering activities for all ages, but what was most outstanding was the wonderful welcome which all visitors received when they went on the stand.”

Top crowd puller on the stand was a Caterpillar digger which gave visitors the chance to operate the controls. Apart from riding the mechanical horse, families were able to have a go on a climbing wall and try milking a model cow. Other activities, under the banner ‘Do Something Different’, included a display of the latest horticultural technology and a chance to make floral buttonholes and beaded dragonflies. Animals from the college’s zoo and a scarecrow from this summer’s ‘Superhero’ maize maze were also on display.

Reaseheath agriculture students took part in breed showing and young handler classes in the cattle show ring with heifers and a cow in milk from the Reaseheath Holstein dairy herd. The student team were awarded first place in the ‘tidy lines’ competition.

Deputy Marketing Manager Faye Thomson-Butt said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the range of vocational courses we offer. We are very proud of the success of our students and coming to the Cheshire Show each year gives us a great platform to show the public what we can do.”

Caption: Sophie, Countess of Wessex, joins Stephanie Owen and agricultural lecturer Mark Walton on Reaseheath College’s stand at the Cheshire Show.

Floristry student launches joint venture with Mum

Floristry students and staff during their visit to Bluebells Florist

Floristry students and staff during their visit to Bluebells Florist

Our florists have enjoyed a visit to an exciting floristry shop in Crewe which has been opened by a fellow student and her mum.

Level 2 Diploma in Floristry student Sophie Garratt and her mum Julie Garratt, who also studied floristry at Reaseheath, launched their new venture ‘Bluebells Florist’ in Underwood Lane, Crewe, earlier this month.

Sophie, 17, a former pupil at Ruskin High School, Crewe, plans to progress onto her Level 3 Diploma in Floristry at Reaseheath while helping in the shop part-time.

She explained: “Me and my mum had planned to run a floristry business together for some time and the right opportunity came up. Fortunately work experience is a big part of my Level 3 Diploma course so I can work in our own shop on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when we’re at our busiest. I’ve already learned how to create window displays and do stocktaking and ordering at college, so that’s really helped me.

“It was great to show the floristry students and staff what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve already had a stream of local visitors into the shop along with our first orders, so we’re really excited about the future.

Giving the venture full marks, floristry lecturer Helen Cooke, who accompanied the group to ‘Bluebells Florist’,  said: “Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit and were really impressed with what Sophie and Julie have achieved in such a short time. We wish them the best of luck and are looking forward to hearing about more as the business progresses.”

Contact Bluebells Florist on 01270 617282

Vicky Venn demonstrates Strelitzia to Sue Poole and Fiona Davies

Reaseheath becomes flagship college for floristry software

Reaseheath College in Cheshire has become the first in the UK to integrate a cutting edge software management system into its floristry teaching.

The Strelitzia software is an intuitive programme which incorporates all aspects of running a floristry shop into one system. Used widely  throughout the industry in this country and abroad, it enables shops and managers to communicate efficiently with each other and with suppliers through structured links into the industry’s web-based systems. This speeds up processes from ordering and organising deliveries to completing invoices, preparing reports and tracking marketing techniques.

The top-of-the-range technology is being introduced to Reaseheath floristry teaching staff this month and will be incorporated into student lessons from March. It will become an established part of all courses from Level 2 Diploma in Floristry upwards from September 2015. The department also plans to run short courses so it can share knowledge and training on the system with local floristry businesses.

Sue Poole, Programme Leader for Floristry, explained: “This software system brings the day to day running of floristry shops up to speed with today’s retail world. It is definitely the way forward and we are proud to be the first college to incorporate the technology into our courses. We view it as a very positive move, as these additional skills can only improve the employability and entrepreneurship of our students.”

Mark Bennett, a Director of Strelitzia Software, said: “We are delighted that Reaseheath College  recognises the importance of educating florists early about the benefits of a software management system.”

Click here for more information on our Floristry courses.

Fantastic success for Reaseheath at WorldSkills UK

Reaseheath florist Anna Eite is officially the most talented student florist in Britain after winning gold at the WorldSkills UK national finals this weekend.

Anna Eite competing

Anna competing

Anna took the top title in the advanced section against strong competition from the best students from colleges and training providers nationwide. The taxing competition was held over three days in front of thousands of visitors to The Skills Show in Birmingham, the country’s biggest showcase of vocational skills and careers.

Anna had to complete five tasks which included designing a floral hat, belt and chair, making up a planted container and taking part in a team project.

Anna, 21, is a Level 3 Diploma in Floristry student and has been supported and trained by Programme Leader for Floristry Sue Poole. Said Sue: “This was a fantastic result and we are all so proud of Anna. She was a wonderful representative for Reaseheath and for the floristry department.”

Richard Carden chats to lead judge Jody Lidgard

Richard chats to lead judge Jody Lidgard

Unfortunately Anna will be over the 22 years age limit for the WorldSkills final in Abu Dhabi in 2017 and will not be considered for the WorldSkills GB team for Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015 as this squad has already been selected.

Anna will represent us at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015, however, as she was on the student team which won the RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year Competition this summer. This title made us eligible for the national final at Chelsea.

Our horticulture department was also proud to support Richard Carden as he battled it out in the WorldSkills UK garden landscape finals. Although Richard, a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture student, didn’t win a medal he was one of just six students to be selected for the national finals. He met the challenge to build a 2m x 6m garden designed by award winning designer Alexandra Froggatt.

Course Manager Tracy Walker said: “Richard did a fantastic job considering the pressure he was under to perform at the very highest level.”

You find out more information about our floristry and horticulture courses on our website.

Reaseheath florists win RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year

Reaseheath floristry students were celebrating after winning the RHS Tatton Park Floristry College of the Year Competition yesterday.

This prestigious new competition is open to UK based floristry colleges and training providers and showcases the talent of students.

Level 3 Diploma in Floristry students Anna Eite, Zoe Sillito and Wendy Anderson, supported by Programme Leader for Floristry Sue Poole, were awarded first place against strong competition from four other colleges and will go through to the final at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015.

The students created five carnival themed designs using flowers with a colour theme of red, gold, green and orange: a mask, a wall hanging, an arrangement, a wired bouquet and a planted design.

As well as winning the college competition they also won a silver gilt medal for their stand.

This has been the second great result for our floristry department this summer, as Anna and Zoe won second and third places respectively at a recent WorldSkills UK competition.

Come and see our student design and our college stand in the Floral Design Studio at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Wednesday July 23 (members only) to Sunday July 27


Valentine message from Reaseheath florists

Reaseheath College floristry students made floral messages to present to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Level 1 Certificate in Floristry students at the Nantwich college enjoyed making heart shaped designs from fresh flowers during a Valentine themed practical lesson on Friday.

Said Louise Birks: “It’s been really good fun because we’ve been able to choose our own flowers and make our own designs for Valentine’s Day. Being a floristry student is great if you like art and design, because you work with colour and texture. And everyone loves getting a bouquet of flowers as a gift.”


Arley Hall opens its doors to the public

Arley Hall, the grand Victorian Jacobian Hall owned by Lord and Lady Askbrook, situated in rural Cheshire opens its doors to the public for its Christmas Floral Extravanganza from the 30th November till the 6th December.

Floristry students prepare for arley hall

Level 3 Floristry students at Reaseheath have been given the opportunity to decorate ‘The Gallery’ as part of the event. The huge room with sky high windows, an enormous marble fireplace and wooden cladding will feature a 15ft Christmas Tree and an abundance of arrangements designed and put together by Level 3 students.

Students have been preparing their designs, collecting together sundries and accessories, visiting wholesalers and ordering flowers ready to decorate ‘The Gallery’ on Thursday 28th November.

Today we have been conditioning flowers, collecting foliage from the Reaseheath grounds and putting together the bases for the arrangement, ready for all our equipment to be transported to Arley Hall tomorrow, where students will work solidly for two days decorating in time for the Arley Hall opening on Saturday.

The other rooms within Arley Hall are to be decorated by florists at the forefront of the floristry industry within Cheshire, and Reaseheath students are privileged to have been given the chance to take part in such a fantastic event at one of England’s historic houses and gardens of distinction.