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Thatcham man from British Garden Centres’ Thatcham Garden Centre wins Garden Centre Association (GCA) Rising Stars award





A Thatcham man has been recognised for his hard work getting children gardening.

Haydon Walters from British Garden Centres’ Thatcham Garden Centre won the 2023 Garden Centre Association (GCA) Rising Stars award on January 29.

Mr Walters, who has worked at Thatcham Garden Centre for the past three years, said he was thrilled to have won.

Hayden Walters with GCA course leader Gordon Emslie, Project and development manager at British Garden Centre Amy Stubbs and GCA chairman Will Blake
Hayden Walters with GCA course leader Gordon Emslie, Project and development manager at British Garden Centre Amy Stubbs and GCA chairman Will Blake

The annual competition started off with around 22 applicants which was then whittled down to five finalists.

The 23-year-old and the other finalists were invited to a conference in the Cotswolds where they had to present an environmentally friendly and sustainable project to an audience.

Mr Walters decided he would hold a summer holiday programme for children to grow their own plants.

The project – dubbed Growing Plants, Growing Minds – was an opportunity for little ones to enjoy planting and learn about growing vegetables.

He took the initiative on independently, growing seedlings in his Thatcham home so the children had plants of their own and made an activity book so they could learn more about the garden centre, plating and green issues like recycling.

He even created his own persona – Mr Carrot – which he says the children loved.

The activity book was created to solidify the knowledge the children took from the sessions.

“As a child I would have forgotten the information the time I got home,” he laughed.

“The company is looking to roll this out company wide and looking at copywriting the activity book.

“I didn’t expect this.

“Just to be in the [GCA] final was amazing.

“The children loved Mr Carrot and still call me Mr Carrot.”

Thatcham Garden Centre expected around 150 young green enthusiasts to come through the door but Mr Walters ended up with more than 500.

Project and development manager at British Garden Centres Amy Stubbs said the awards are a fantastic way to recognise new and up-and-coming staff in the gardening industry who are already making a difference and promoting gardening in such an enthusiastic and positive way.

She said: “I know that Haydon will go on to do great things, and well done to all the other highly commended entrants.

“I hope that the Rising Stars Award continues to encourage other young people to think about this sector as an opportunity to grow a career and develop.”

GCA course leader Gordon Emslie also commented on Mr Walter’s achievement and said: “The success of his project was such that over 500 children in the Thatcham area experienced growing seedlings for themselves.”



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