With Covid restrictions easing we are feeling more positive about arranging face to face events.

The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition Regional Finals have now taken place online. Whilst contestants have not been able to experience the excitement of a live event, they have been able to secure a place in the Grand Final. It is very much looking like the final will be going ahead at RGBE Logan Garden, Port Logan on Saturday 4th September 2021. With a very much reduced timescale Victoria George, the National Organiser, has a challenging job to ensure everything is in place. We have a strong action group and experienced Regional Organisers to assist.

For the past 21 years Graham Porter has been an integral part of the competition team. I first met Graham at a meeting in London when we were both new Regional Organisers.  It was proposed at the meeting that we become Chair and Vice Chair of the group. This was the start of a partnership that has lasted the distance and has seen the competition grow into the flagship event it is today. Graham has used his skills writing and collating the questions. He has also been responsible for providing the press releases. At each Grand Final he has steered the contestants and guided the question master through the process to ensure that the event was seamless. As Regional Organiser in Northern branch, he has ensured that the competition has run smoothly. Graham has decided it is time to retire from his role as Vice Chairman of YHoY and Regional Organiser, and I am sure he will enjoy the extra time to enjoy with his family. I offer my personal thanks and gratitude for his support. I am pleased to announce that Kristopher Harper, from Eastern branch, has agreed to take on the role as Vice Chairman of the Action Group. I am confident that we now have a strong team to take the competition forward.

Branch committees have started the process of arranging events, and some are already on the calendar. I am sure we are all looking forward to getting out and about again.

We have recently completed a survey of our student members to establish what they hope to gain from their CIH membership. As you are aware it is our intention to increase our offering to this group, who are the potential future leaders of our industry. We will be analysing the survey results over the coming weeks and will report the outcome in due course.

The Council of Trustees has recently met to start the process of developing the Strategic Plan for the next five years. Branch Chairs will also be involved in the process. We would encourage you to share your ideas with your local branch representative to council or the Chair of your branch committee.

The Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund is providing funding for a number of innovative projects. They will improve environments, provide up to 2500 jobs and see up to 800,000 new trees planted.

In July we have seen the return of RHS Flower Shows at Hampton Court and Tatton Park. This is encouraging for companies who supply plants and products and exhibit and build show gardens.

Fruit Focus took place in July. Demonstrating the latest robotics and technology, they provided an insight into future development for the industry. The NFU fruit forums provided a platform providing the opportunity to discuss and debate key issues, challenges and development within the fruit industry.

The Parks Alliance, representing the people and organisations that create, maintain, invest in and use the public green spaces are now firmly established. They provide a collective voice to promote and protect the open space and facilities that is important for our health and wellbeing.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort