0 RHS Wisley Student wins 2008 Young Horticulturist of the Year National Final.

Patrick Wiltshire is third time lucky. After three years of trying, Patrick Wiltshire, currently studying at RHS Wisley, but originally from East Yorkshire, has won the 2008 National Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHoY) competition and hopes to use his £2000 travel bursary, sponsored by the Percy Thrower Trust, to travel in the USA to study native and cultivated plants.

Patrick's success was more assured as each of the eleven rounds went past and he cranked up his impressive score. It was only in the last rapid fire buzzer round that Ed Miles, from the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh, was able to eat away a little at his impressive 10 point lead.

Patrick's prizes, apart from his Percy Thrower Trust £2000 travel bursary, include Life Membership of The Eden Project, a Wollemi Pine, two tickets to one of any of the 2008 summer Eden Session concerts and a signed Angela Easterling print. Ed Miles received £700 from the Horticultural Development Council (he will be producing a 10,000 word report on modern methods of growing for his prize) and a signed Angela Easterling print and third placed Chris Greer, currently studying at Writtle College in Essex, won £300 (he will be producing a 5,000 word report on the commercial viability of an NCCPG collection of his choice) plus a signed Angela Easterling print. The remaining contestants each received a cheque for £100 and a signed Angela Easterling print.

This year's competition has seen over 1500 students from across Britain and Ireland taking part in heats and branch finals over recent months, all with the focus of getting to the National Final at The Eden Project on May 3rd.

For the lucky eight contestants it was a hard slog to reach the final, having answered 45 questions in the heats as well as upwards of 40 questions across every aspect of Horticulture in their Branch Finals and they had to identify 24 varied items in the three Branch Final identification rounds, including eight plants, eight pieces of horticultural equipment or materials and eight specimens of pests, diseases and weeds.

These eight had to face another eight rounds of directed and buzzer questions and three further identification rounds before Patrick Wiltshire carried off the coveted 1st prize of a Percy Thrower Trust £2000 Travel Bursary and a collection of other prizes sponsored by The Eden Project.

Our eight finalists, from across the eight Institute of Horticulture regions were:

Northern Branch - Patrick Wiltshire (1st place)
Scottish Branch - Ed Miles (2nd place)
Eastern Branch - Chris Greer (3rd place)
South East Branch - Matti Nissalo - (4th place)
Irish Branch - Richard Kelly (5th place)
West Midlands and South Wales Branch - Jason Daff (6th)
North West and North Wales Branch - Sam Turner (7th place)
South West Branch - Hannah Freeman (8th place)

Also present at the event were Tony Girard, President of the IoH, Donald Murray Eden Project Curator, Sue Nicholas, Chair of YHoY National Organising Committee, Sue Minter, IoH Hon Sec and Question master for the competition, representatives of the Percy Thrower Trust, Helen Brent of MorePeople, sponsors of the heats and other sponsors. The remaining audience were made up of family and friends of the contestants, representatives of the eight IoH Branches, representatives of the colleges and employers of the contestants and staff from The Eden Project.

The competition
· The competition is run in three phases: local heats, Branch Finals and National Final.
· Local heats are based on multiple choice questions on a wide range of horticultural topics, through an MS PowerPoint presentation. The heats take place at colleges, garden centres and anywhere else where competitors may gather.
· Heat winners go forward to one of eight local Branch Finals, in which a Question Master asks a wide range of horticultural questions, some on a buzzer, some directed to individual contestants.
· The winner of each Branch Final then goes forward to the YHoY National Final. The format is the same as for the Branch Finals and the questions are drawn from all branches of horticulture.
· The overall winner collects the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, worth £2,000, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society. This funds a horticultural tour anywhere in the world. Previous YHoY winners have visited New Zealand, the Himalayas, the United States, South America and various parts of Europe.
· There are plenty of prizes at Branch Final and local heat level as well. The value of prizes in the 2008 competition topped £10,000, thanks to the generosity of a wide range of sponsors.
· The Eden Project have generously added to the prizes for the National Final, as have the Horticultural Development Council, making the total prize money / goods for the National Final for 2008 worth around £5000.
· For a pocket history of the competition visit the YHoY page on the IoH website at www.horticulture.org.uk.

Sponsorship

Major 2008 national sponsors include:

· Shropshire Horticultural Society / Percy Thrower Trust, which funds the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary
· MorePeople (Heats)
· Bulldog Tools (Branch Finals)
· Thompson and Morgan (Branch Finals).
· Horticultural Development Council (National Final)
· The Eden Project (National Final)

The Institute of Horticulture is interested in hearing from companies who would be willing to offer financial or other sponsorship at all levels of the competition. In the first instance, please contact Mary Porter (IoH Administration Manager) on tel: 020 7936 5957, fax: 020 7936 5958 or email: info@horticulture.org.uk.

IoH Postal address:
Institute of Horticulture,
C/O Institute of Biology,
Red Lion Court,
London,


(www.horticulture.org.uk )

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