A Writtle University College student has won the Eastern Regional Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.
Fern Champney, who is in her second year of a BSc Horticulture degree, won the contest for the second year running. Second place went to Writtle Horticulture alumna Rosie Kippen, who graduated two years ago and is now working for English Heritage at Wrest Park.
Fern, who was up against five other competitors, took home the first prize of £150 as well as a spade and fork set provided by Bulldog Tools and regional sponsor the Norfolk & Norwich Horticultural Society.
She now has the chance to win a £2,500 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary for a horticultural tour anywhere in the world as she goes forward to the national final of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture competition.
The 23-year-old, from Writtle, said: “As this was my second time doing this competition, I was less nervous. It was a closely-fought competition and I am proud to be representing Writtle University College and the Eastern Branch at the Grand Final.”
Sandra Nicholson, Horticulture Senior Lecturer at WUC, said: “We are really pleased Fern has made it through to the national final of this competition, which is highly-respected in the industry. The questions are always a real test of plant knowledge and her success shows how the degree gives students this foundation, as well as the technological and scientific understanding required.
“The fact that one of our graduates came second in the competition; Ian Roofe, the organiser and quizmaster on the day, is also another alumnus and Martyn Davey, the branch Chairman, is a former lecturer, shows how Writtle paves the way for successful careers in this industry.”
Fern, along with the six other winners of the Regional Finals, will go to the Final on the 6 May at the University Centre, Shrewsbury. Shropshire was home to Percy Thrower, making it the perfect venue for the occasion.
A spokesperson from the Chartered Institute of Horticulture said: “With an audience of more than 35 sponsors, employers and family to support them, the six regional final contestants proved themselves to be amongst the best young horticulturists in the Eastern region. We would like to congratulate each and every contestant for taking part, and wish them the very best of luck as they continue on into their exciting and varied careers in horticulture.
“With the unwavering support of our generous and passionate sponsors, this year we will once again continue to encourage and inspire young people. We want to support all young horticulturists, from those already familiar with this fantastically diverse industry, to those with no concept of the wonderful opportunities it can bring.”