The Garden Centre Association (GCA) Trust has selected Matt Tanner from Squire’s Garden Centres and Jayne Scott from Klondyke to go to this year’s International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress (September, 2018).
For the third year running the GCA Trust has picked two candidates to receive a sponsored place as part of the Dick Allen Scholarship Award Scheme at the IGCA Congress.
Trust chairman Sue Allen explained: “Once again the Trustees had the difficult job of choosing from a small but top-quality group of applicants. Matt and Jayne were selected as they are both enthusiastic and eager young members of staff at their respective centres. They have also taken part in the ‘Rising Stars’ annual programme sponsored by Westland, in association with the GCA, and, in fact, Jayne was voted as this year’s Rising Star winner at the GCA Conference in January.”
The 2018 IGCA Congress, which takes place in Prague in the Czech Republic, runs from September 16 to 22 and includes a busy schedule of visits, activities and events.
Sue added: “This year’s congress is particularly exciting as we will be seeing many new and innovative centres in a country where only 25 years ago private ownership and initiative were not allowed. We know that Jayne and Matt will both form close new friendships and will come home brimming with enthusiasm and new ideas.”
The pair will be joining an ‘Interactive Tour Bus’ during the Congress and meeting many other young people from the 19 member countries.
Matt explained: “I am looking forward to the opportunity presented to me by the GCA. The chance to visit and share ideas with garden centres and other retailers in the Czech Republic is an exciting opportunity. Having worked with the GCA in the past on the Rising Stars programme, the knowledge and experience shared between participants is a real draw to taking part in the IGCA.
“As an industry we are very good at sharing, learning and best practice amongst ourselves and I think taking this to the next level with the IGCA will be of great benefit to me and Squire’s as a business.”
Matt started his career at Squire’s as a Saturday boy in the company’s Woking centre when he was just 16. He went on to work at a number of Squire’s centres, including West Horsley, Cobham, Badshot Lea, and now Chertsey where he is the garden centre manager.
Squire’s deputy chairman Sarah Squire said: “I am so proud that Matt has been selected to take up one of the two sponsored places on the IGCA. This is an amazing opportunity for him and is a testament to his hard work and dedication. We are immensely thankful to the trustees of the scholarship fund for making this possible. Dick Allen was a wonderful man and a great advocate of the GCA and this scholarship is a fitting tribute. So well done Matt for being selected for this fantastic experience!”
Jayne has been with Daleside Klondyke Garden Centre since she was 16 years old and has worked her way up to her current position of assistant manager.
Jayne commented: “I am delighted to have been chosen to attend this year’s IGCA in Prague, it will be a great learning experience to help further my career. I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas and inspiration I can gain, and I am proud to be representing The Klondyke Group.”
Matt and Jayne’s IGCA programme will include a hectic mix of visits to garden centres and analyses of the businesses, in-depth discussions on current issues, plus trips to DIY centres, production units, castles and even the famous Budweiser Budvar Brewery.
Klondyke chief executive David Yardley said: “I am so pleased for Jayne that she has been selected to go on the IGCA tour. She was so excited to win the Rising Stars Award and this has just made a great year even better for her. Thanks, also, to Sue Allen and the trustees for giving Jayne this opportunity.”
The object of the GCA Trust is to advance among the general public and, in particular among horticultural students, education in horticulture, and particularly garden centres, by the provision and administration of scholarships and bursaries, including prizes to foster such education.
The Trust also aims to assist horticultural students to study, research into and gain experience of horticulture and landscaping.
Sue continued: “After the excellent presentation by last year’s recipients of this award at the GCA Conference, we had hoped that we would be inundated with lots of applications this year, but, yet again, it would seem that only those businesses already familiar with the benefits of the IGCA chose to enter.
“We know there are many potential, management calibre young people out there who would benefit so much from this unique opportunity and, of course, their employers would benefit enormously too. We hope we will be able to continue this initiative in the future and would urge more member centres to take part next year and to get in touch to find out more.”