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Floristry technician wins place at RHS Chelsea Flower Show


Hugh Baird College Floristry Technician, Emma Kelly, has won a place at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show after coming second in the regional heats of the BFA Young Florist of the Year competition in Harrogate.

Only the top sixteen scorers from the regional heats have a chance to compete at Chelsea so, despite earning the second highest score in her category in Harrogate, Emma still had a nervous wait to find out if she’d made it through. Now, with the competitors and the competition brief announced, she is busy planning her entry for Britain’s most prestigious flower show.

Emma studied towards both the Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in Floristry at Hugh Baird College and, as well as being floristry technician at the College and their Florist Shop, L20 Flowers, she also works at Just Flowers in Southport.

The twenty five year old from Southport is no stranger to success having entered various competitions over the last eight years. She lists amongst her accolades, the Xenia Field Trophy for best under 21 amateur exhibitor at Southport Flower Show, which she won for three years running.

This year’s brief for the BFA Young Florist of the Year promises to bring a carnival atmosphere to Chelsea as competitors are tasked with creating a headdress to be worn at a Brazilian Carnival. Working to strict rules, the flowers and/or plant material used must be visually dominant and the final design must be made up of at least two thirds fresh flowers and/or plant material.

Coming up with the best design is not the only challenge the competitors face. Emma will need to transport her materials down to Chelsea and prepare and store the fresh flowers so that they remain at their best throughout the duration of the show.

Emma said:

We have to install our piece at Chelsea on Sunday, 22nd May ready for judging and Press Day on Monday, 23rd May. The exhibit then stays in place until the Wednesday evening so it needs to be carefully maintained.

The national flower of Brazil is an orchid so I’ll be doing my best to incorporate orchids into my design as well as lots of tropical flowers, and I need to make sure they stay as fresh as possible. Orchids are particularly delicate and conditions in the marquee can be warm, so it will definitely be a challenge but one I’m really looking forward to. I’m very excited to be competing at Chelsea and can’t wait to go. It’s a real honour to get this far and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and friends, who have been amazing.

Fiori, Heemskerk and L20 Flowers are sponsoring Emma’s materials and Hugh Baird College are subsidising her travel to Chelsea. Operations Manager at the College, Maria Stevens, said:

We’re all very proud of Emma’s achievement at the heats and are looking forward to seeing how she gets on at Chelsea. It’s important for the College to support both students and staff with their endeavours and Emma’s success is a reflection of the high standards of our employees and their passion for their industry.

Emma’s experience of competitions is already benefitting the floristry students she works with at Hugh Baird College. She is encouraging them to enter competitions, starting small to build their confidence and hopes to inspire and mentor them through the process.

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