Westland Horticulture Rising Stars Finalists Unveiled


Five individuals from Garden Centre Association (GCA) member garden centers have been announced as finalists in the industry body’s esteemed Rising Stars program, proudly sponsored by Westland Horticulture in November 2023.

The finalists, Shelley Harrison from Haskins Snowhill, Callum Spencer from Stewarts Broomhill, Haydon Walters from British Garden Centres Thatcham, Warren Bolter from Thurrock Garden Centre, and Kerry Barrett from British Garden Centres Upminster, were nominated by their respective garden centers and participated in a series of workshops throughout the year.

GCA inspector Gordon Emslie, who mentored the workshops, extended his congratulations, stating, “I’d like to say a huge ‘congratulations’ to our finalists.” The candidates undertook sustainability or environmental projects within their garden centers from June to September, presenting them to a Dragon’s Den panel of judges at Millbrook Garden Centre – Gravesend in October. The final five emerged as the top scorers, showcasing outstanding commitment, enthusiasm, and tenacity.

GCA Rising Stars programme attendees with Gordon Emslie

Gordon emphasized the high quality and creativity displayed by this season’s Rising Stars, acknowledging their efforts in addressing significant issues often taken for granted in gardening. He commended their resilience in overcoming challenges and noted the program’s success in cultivating more resilient individuals.

British Garden Centres boasts two finalists, Haydon Walters from Thatcham and Kerry Barrett from Upminster, who will present their projects at the GCA Conference in January. Amy Stubbs, Development and Projects Manager at British Garden Centres, expressed pride in the growth of the finalists through the Rising Stars scheme and emphasized the positive impact of young talent on the evolving garden industry.

The finalists will present their projects at the GCA Conference at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, on Monday, January 29. Conference delegates will vote for the final winner, to be crowned at the event.

Gina Lewis, Social & Content Marketing Manager at Westland Horticulture, expressed delight in sponsoring and supporting the Rising Stars on their journey over the past 12 months. She praised the thought-provoking and innovative presentations, highlighting the immense potential of this talented group.

The GCA, representing over 200 garden centers nationwide, plays a crucial role in helping members achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality, and reliability. The 2024 annual conference is scheduled to take place at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, from January 28 to 31, 2024, with bookings available through the organization’s website www.gca.org.uk.

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