0 Young Horticulturist of the Year 2013

The Institute of Horticulture's Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHoY) competition will reach its climax on Saturday 13 April with the Grand Final being held at the University of Liverpool's Ness Botanic Gardens, Wirral.

Paul Cook, Curator of Ness Botanic Gardens, said "It is great for Ness that the Institute of Horticulture have chosen to return to Ness Botanic Gardens for the Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition. Ness has a long history of trainees and students working in the gardens and it is always good to see how their careers develop and they fulfil their ambitions to become professional horticulturists."

Leigh Morris FI Hort, President, Institute of Horticulture, said "The YHoY is a fantastic competition as it raises the profile of young, enthusiastic and knowledgeable horticulturists. It gives them an exciting platform to present themselves on and for the winner, an amazing opportunity to do a horticultural study trip anywhere in the world.

YHoY is something I tried myself to win and on occasion I still recite my hard luck story on "how I should have won the final "(but didn't - the better man by far did!). I am delighted to see the evolution of YHoY and the wider engagement with the industry. I'm certainly looking forward to watching the Grand Final at Ness Botanic Gardens and being amongst the first to formally congratulate this year's winner."

Eight finalists, one from each of the Institute's regional branches, have battled their way through local heats and regional finals to compete for the much sought after title and the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary of £2,000, awarded by the Shropshire Horticultural Society. There are cash prizes for all finalists as well as other prizes, totalling in excess of £10,000 for those who have taken part in the heats and regional finals.

The finalists competing in this year's YHoY Grand Final are:

Sara Perzley - Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), representing the Scotland Branch
Chris Parsons - Gardener, Manfield, County Durham, representing the Northern Branch
Lucy Baker - Wyken Hall, Suffolk, representing the Eastern Branch
Mike Flahive - Self-employed landscaper, representing the Ireland Branch
Jez Stamp - BBC Gardeners World, representing the South East Branch
Alex Tranmer - National Trust, representing the North West and North Wales Branch
Matthew Hussey - Sparsholt College, representing the South West Branch
Owen Groves - Pershore College representing the West Midlands and South Wales Branch

Past winners have found it a great boost for their CV and career prospects and have used the prize money to travel as far afield as China and Borneo. Douglas Mackay, 2012 Grand Final winner said "Competing in the Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year has been a fantastic experience over the last three years, meeting like-minded people from all over the country.

I am overwhelmed to have finally won the competition and I am planning to travel Europe studying fruit production and crop protection techniques across the region. I am indebted to my lecturers who have inspired me in my career."

The event will be live streamed so that you can watch the action unfold as it takes place: http://gordonn.camstreams.com/

Anyone interested in taking part in future competitions should contact the Institute's Administration Team Tel: 01992 707025 or email ioh@horticulture.org.uk

The Institute of Horticulture, the only professional body representing all aspects of Horticulture, organises this annual national competition which is free to enter and is open to any horticulturist in the UK below the age of 30 on 31 July each year.

National sponsors for the 2013 competition are the Shropshire Horticultural Society, who, through the Percy Thrower Trust, provide the £2,000 Travel Bursary for the competition winner and also sponsorship of the Grand Final, the recruitment company MorePeople and the R&D levy body the Horticultural Development Company (HDC).

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