Students and staff at Horticap welcomed celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh and his wife to Bluecoat Wood Nurseries.
The Patron of Horticap, Alan met the students, staff, volunteers and trustees including Steve Scarre, Chair of Trustees of Horticap Limited.
He said: “A staunch supporter and Patron of Horticap, Alan met the students, staff, volunteers and trustees over a cup of tea in the students’ mess room.
“Excitement amongst the students had been building for over a week, after they were informed of his visit.”
Alan said: ““The thing about Horticap, is that it reaches the parts of gardening that nobody else can.
“It enables people with learning difficulties to feel a sense of self-worth, and at the same time, it produces plants and flowers that we can all buy and plant in our gardens.
“I can think of no gardening organisation that deserves our support more.”
Alan was escorted around the various parts of the site, including the growing areas, workshops, environmental areas and gardens by the students, accompanied by Phil Airey, Assistant Manager.
Steve said: “Alan was impressed with all that he saw, including the wildlife areas, bird hide and Easter Display, which are all open to the public seven days a week, from 10am to 4pm.
“Alan said that what he liked about Horticap’s ethos was that in addition to it being a learning and enrichment centre, it was a live concern, showing what gardening can do for everybody. This involves getting in touch with the land and in particular plants and how that can really benefit us.”
Following the outdoor tour Alan looked around the shop and tea room, where he met more staff, volunteers and trustees over another cup of tea.
He was informed of the ambitious plans to replace the outdated poly-tunnels and create a more welcoming environment, including re-locating the shop and extending the tea room.
He was excited by the architect’s proposals, and looked forward to returning to open the new building on completion.
The Trustees are currently busy trying to raise additional funds to pay for this and Alan encouraged those who can to support this exciting project.
Alan and his wife then watched some of the students participate in a craft workshop run by Carol Sowden, another talented member of staff.