The students at the Lady Ryder Memorial Garden in Parmoor, near Frieth, Henley-on Thames, are blossoming. This year, all eight passed their City and Guilds Level 1 in Horticulture, and have just been rewarded and awarded their certificates at a ceremony at the Garden, along with a gift basket from Miracle-Gro.
The Lady Ryder Memorial Garden is a walled garden situated in a superb rural setting above the Hambledon Valley in the heart of the Chiltern countryside. It is maintained by the team of students plus keen staff volunteers. Most of the students come from unprivileged and disadvantaged backgrounds, with little or no previous education, so this is a tremendous achievement by all of them.
During the time they spend at the Garden, they receive support and help by encouraging them to learn how to operate as part of a team and how to integrate and work with others, which builds their self-confidence. They also learn the skills of gardening and horticulture.
Since September 2013, the Lady Ryder Memorial Garden has had links with Berkshire College of Agriculture to provide teaching facilities for the students for the City and Guilds Level 1 in Horticulture.
The Right Hon Lady Parmoor, Member of the Walled Garden Committee and leader in garden work, said: "This is an absolutely brilliant achievement. We are extremely proud of all our students, who have achieved such great things – both here in the Garden and in their Horticultural studies. We are very thankful to Scotts Miracle-Gro, who provide support – including psychological support for the students, since they appreciate that one of the leading gardening companies is helping them. They supply us with composts, soil improvers and plant feeds. We couldn’t carry on our valuable work without the help from our supporters.”
Elliott Riley, father of student Lewis Riley, said: "This is absolutely fabulous. Because of Lewis’ health problems, he always struggled with education in a school classroom environment. Working at the Lady Ryder Memorial Garden has given him the hands-on experience he needed and the opportunity to study in an environment that suits his learning needs perfectly. It has changed his personality and allowed him to grow as a person. He has learnt to work as part of a team, as well as lots of horticultural skills. He is now aiming for an apprenticeship with the local council or a local company.”
Four of the students receive their City and Guilds Level 1 in Horticulture certificates, plus diplomas from the Lady Ryder Memorial Garden, from Vicky Page, head of the Scotts Miracle-Gro UK Community Outreach Programme.
Front Row from left to right: Dean Slater, now a student at Berkshire College of Agriculture; Kelly Larwood; Vicky Page; Louise Vaughn, now a student at Berkshire College of Agriculture; Lewis Riley.
Together with back row, from left to right: The Right Hon Lady Parmoor and three staff volunteers, Janis Harman, Pat Ringrow and Gill Sandeman.