Eleven-year-old Lucas Hatch, from Woodbridge in Suffolk, has been named the first RHS Young School Gardener of the Year for impressing judges with his flair, enthusiasm and knowledge of gardening.
Broadcaster and The Sun’s gardening editor, Peter Seabrook and RHS Curator Elizabeth Balmforth were among the judges who were wowed by Lucas’s application when assessing the final selection.
Following a preliminary round involving schoolteachers nominating pupils, sixteen finalists were chosen. Each of the finalists’ schools was given a digital camcorder to make films of the finalists, who were asked to answer eight questions. The judges then reviewed the sixteen videos.
ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter David Domoney, who launched the competition in April, said: “What a little star! Lucas’s passion for gardening reminds me of how I was at school – fascinated by plants. I found the process of watching things grow amazing and, like me, I know that Lucas’s passion will never leave him. Although it’s obvious that Lucas has a future in gardening, every finalist demonstrated exemplary ability and enthusiasm, and I wish Lucas and all the runners-up the best of luck for the future – just don’t get too good too quick or I’ll be out of a job!”
When asked why Lucas is such an exemplary gardener, Head Teacher James Leese, said: “If you asked anyone in Years 4, 5 and 6 who was a good gardener almost any pupil would say Lucas Hatch. It is very revealing when other teachers as well as pupils turn to Lucas to answer a question they have about a gardening related issue. He has built up his confidence outside the classroom through school gardening. These outside successes have helped him develop an outstanding attitude to school and work. He is an unassuming lad who just adores the natural world and is fascinated by all that plants have to offer. I have the sense that this is the direction that his career will take in the future and I look forward to seeing what he will achieve.”
Peter Seabrook said: “Every competitor here is a winner. They will have learned skills to give pleasure and satisfaction for life, while in due course countless job opportunities will become possible for scholars of all abilities.”
Judges’ comments about Lucas include: “Lucas really demonstrated his excellent gardening skills in the video. His dedication showed through, as he looks after the school garden in the holidays. Gardening is his life. His day is planned around the garden. He is a natural.”
Lucas, who is from St Mary’s CEVA Primary School and who came top of the 7-11 age bracket, wasn’t the only shining entrant. Ashton Proctor, from Great Missenden CofE Combined School in Buckinghamshire was the winner of the 5-7 age group, Henry Grub from Imberhorne School, West Sussex came top of the 11-14 category and Alan Monk, from Oaklands Catholic School, Hampshire won the 14-16 age group.
On top of the title of RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2012, Lucas will get to spend the day at an RHS Garden working with an RHS gardener, he’ll receive family tickets to RHS Flower Show Tatton Park or RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2013 and gardening tools, his school will receive £500 worth of garden gift vouchers. The runners-up have also won tools and £500 vouchers for their schools.
Jacky Chave, RHS Strategic Schools Manager, says: “The RHS is delighted for Lucas and the runners-up – congratulations to you all, but we’d also like to thank all the teachers for sending in nominations. There are so many fantastically able and keen young gardeners out there and I’m already looking forward to next year’s competition.”
The RHS Young School Gardener of the Year competition is part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which supports more than half of all UK schools to use a school garden as a teaching resource. RHS research shows that gardening helps children develop, teaches them life skills and improves their wellbeing.
At RHS Chelsea Flower Show, comedian Ricky Gervais was among a number of high-profile celebrities who showed their support for the campaign. He said: “Everyone should do something creative and I can’t think of anything better than appreciating the beauty of nature. That’s why I support a campaign that encourages kids to get involved with gardening.”