Harry Johnson-Firth, third from the left, seen here with his fellow competitors and Gerald Bonner CHort, FCIHort, President of the CIoH, has won the CIoH Northern Regional Final. We now look forward to watching him take on the other seven competitors from across the UK and Ireland at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh’s Logan Botanic Gardens near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway on May 2nd.

The region has had quite a run of success over the last 30 years and our last Grand Final winner in 2014, Chris Parsons, an ex-student from East Durham College, used his Percy Thrower Trust Travel Bursary to help fund a trip to China in 2018 with a British nursery. Emily Marston came a very creditable second at last year’s Grand Final at RBG Kew and she is now studying at RHS Gardens Wisley.

Regionally, we have two main sponsors, without whom the Regional competition would not happen. The North of England Horticultural Society (NEHS) (www.flowershow.org.uk) generously provide us with a sum of money each year that allows us to give worthy prizes at the first two stages of the competition. In addition, we are provided with a sum of money each year from Stockbridge Technology Centre (www.stockbridgetechnology.co.uk) near Selby that allows us to provide each of the eight Regional Finalists with a copy of the Collins Guide to Pests, Diseases and Disorders of Garden Plants – these are presented as the Bruce Rigby Memorial prize at our Regional Final. In addition, nationally, Bulldog Tools (www.bulldogtools.co.uk) provide a spade and fork set for each of the eight Regional Final winners. For the first time this year, Adrian Stockdale, current Editor of ‘Plant Names Simplified’, has provided a copy for each of the eight Regional Final winners from across the UK and Ireland.

Our seven competitors for the 2020 Northern Branch Regional Final were:
1st. Harry Johnson-Firth (Askham Bryan College)
2nd. Cailean Iain Stewart (Open heat winner)
3rd. Andrew Jackson (Craven College)
4th. Becky Cross (Askham Bryan College)
5th. Jed Hallett-Miller (Northumberland College – Kirkley Hall Campus)
6th. Kathryn Chew (RHS Gardens Harlow Carr)
7th. Hazel Irving (Askham Bryan College)

For over one hundred years, the North of England Horticultural Society has supported a range of organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Horticulture through profits made from the twice-yearly Harrogate Flower Shows. Nick Smith, Show Director, said:

“Today’s students are tomorrows horticulturalists, gardeners, designers and botanists. The CIoH Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition offers a unique platform for showcasing student’s horticultural knowledge across a wide range of subjects. As a charitable organisation, the North of England Horticultural Society is proud to be able to continue its annual sponsorship of the competitions Northern Branch Heats and Regional Final, ensuring that horticulture remains both relevant and exciting to future generations.”

Graham Porter FCIHort, the Northern Branch Regional Organiser said “after twenty years of running the Regional competition and helping to organise the national competition, it never ceases to amaze me that such young people can have such advanced knowledge. It is proof, if ever it was needed, that our industry is in good hands for the future.”

Are you a young horticulturist interested in travelling the world? Or do you see the YHOY competition as a valuable sponsorship opportunity? Email yhoy@horticulture.org.uk or visit our website www.horticulture.org.uk for more details.

We are indebted to our national sponsors, The Shropshire Horticultural Society, for their continued support of the Grand Final, with an impressive £2500 Grand Final First Prize, in the form of a travel bursary. This year, the Grand Final will be at RBGE Logan Botanic Gardens (www.rbge.org.uk) on May 2nd.