Green-fingered teen is schools’ top gardener

A Goosnargh teenager has been crowned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Young School Gardener of the Year 2015.

Greenfingered Heather Birkby, 14, received the prestigious award from horticulturalist and television presenter Frances Tophill, who described Heather as “an inspiring young lady” during a ceremony held at the RHS garden at Wisley, Surrey at the weekend.

Heather Birkby, 14 receives her award from TV presenter Frances Tophill

Heather Birkby, 14 receives her award from TV presenter Frances Tophill

The award aims to recognise and reward young people who show true passion for gardening, who have made an outstanding contribution to their school and local community, and who can demonstrate a knowledge of horticultural skills beyond their years.

The Broughton Business and Enterprise College year nine pupil was nominated for the award by school environmental co-ordinator Jane Sims, who said: “This is an outstanding achievement which reflects not only her interest in horticulture and the environment but also her commitment to putting her interest to good use and getting involved in projects which help the whole community.”

Mrs Sims had to explain in 500 words what singled Heather out as an exemplary school gardener, also making a video and said: “Perhaps it has something to do with her name but Heather has shown a love of plants ever since starting at Broughton High three years ago.”

A stalwart of all environmental and gardening related activities, Heather has helped establish a new raised bed growing area at school; likes to harvest and cook with the fresh produce; is a bee keeper; has helped with the school orchard and participated in local apple days promoting local varieties; has helped design and plant a WW1 commemorative garden; has been helping to prepare a formal flower bed to commemorate the school’s 40th anniversary and is also raising plants from seed and choosing plants to design a sensory garden for a residential home.

Heather’s prizes include working with RHS gardeners for a day; tickets to Hampton Court Flower Show 2016 and £500 of garden vouchers for school and a set of garden tools. Frances Tophill will also visit Broughton.