WorldSkills UK heat tests landscaping skills

Future garden landscapers demonstrated their skills at the north west regional heat of the WorldSkills UK competition, run on campus last week.

Horticultural students and apprentices from across the region, including six of our own students, took part in the knock-out heat which was run by the Association of Professional Landscapers.

Following a similar elimination round in the south of the country, the highest scoring students will go to the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park for further training and to get used to appearing in front of big crowds. This year’s final will be held at The Skills Show at the NEC Birmingham in the autumn.

The competitors had to build a decked unit in a timed session and were marked on the quality of their work and attention to detail. We put forward Level 3 Extended Diploma Horticulture students India Hill, Jay Hevingham and Finin Talbot (from Year 1) and Joshua Camm and Christopher Shore (from Year 2). Last year’s finalist Richard Carden also took part.

The students have been preparing for the competition this term thanks to the efforts of hard landscape tutor Jason Hinks. They will hear who has been selected for the next round in May.

Jodie Lithgard, lead judge and trainer said: “The competitors produced work to a good standard. This is very pleasing as we are putting all our efforts into increasing the standard of skills coming into the industry.”

WorldSkills UK feeds into the Olympic-styled Worlds Skills final, held every two years to showcase the world’s top young talent in vocational industries.

Former Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture student Matt Beesley, 21, is in the final selection for this year’s international squad which will represent GB in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August.

Matt, has progressed to become Director of Beesley’s Landscapes and employs two apprentices, both of whom took part in Reaseheath’s regional heat. Matt built a garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year alongside Jodie Lidgard and this year will partner garden designer Sharon Hockenhull in the build of the ‘Light Catcher’ visionary garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

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Growing careers in horticulture

Young Horticulturalist of the Year regional winner with Reaseheath's Sarah Hopkinson

Young Horticulturist of the Year regional winner with Reaseheath’s Sarah Hopkinson

Professional horticulturists, careers advisers, students and prospective students packed into Reaseheath’s lecture theatre recently for first North West Grow Careers event.

The day commenced with an introduction to horticulture for career advisers by Chartered Institute of Horticulture Branch Chair, Sue Nicholas, followed by Reaseheath’s Curriculum Area Manager, Sarah Hopkinson, who provided an insight in to the horticulture department’s offering and the new Nation Centre for Food Futures at Reaseheath. The afternoon saw eight industry speakers from the design, landscaping, commercial production and management sectors of horticulture discuss their careers and businesses.

Speakers included: multi RHS gold medalist designer Pip Probert; Phil Pearson from APS Salads (the largest supplier of tomatoes to Tesco); Faye Steer, Deputy Head Gardener for Chatsworth House; Lee Webster from The Landscape Group and former Reaseheath student Sue Beesley, who is also the owner of Blue Cottage Gardens and Nursery.

The speakers highlighted a wide range of career opportunities within the horticulture industry, with many urging the keen audience to pursue a career in horticulture and fill the gaps in specialist knowledge and skills.

Sue Beesley shares her career journey through the horticulture industry

Sue Beesley shares her career journey through the horticulture industry

The Landscape Group actively promoted opportunities within their business including discussing their Greener Graduate programme – with many students registering their interest on the day!

The Grow Careers event was organised in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH) and was followed in the evening by the CIH Young Horticulturist of the Year competition regional final, hosted by the horticulture department.



By Craig Bailey, Reaseheath Lecturer in Horticulture and Course Manager for FdSc Garden and Landscape Design