The House of Lords private dining room played host to a fundraising dinner and charity auction on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. The event was in support of a project called Future Gardeners.
The fundraising event was key to the future of the programme. Generous donors provided a catalogue of lots that were put up for auction that evening, including many holidays, outings, and even a trip in a Spitfire!
The auctioneer was TV gardener and WCOG Liveryman David Domoney, who provided a lively and entertaining evening which was a huge success - raising nearly £30,000!
This money goes directly to the Future Gardeners programme, and with The Worshipful Company of Gardeners committing to fund half of the running costs of the project themselves, Future Gardeners has been secured for at least the next two years.
Future Gardeners is a new, innovative training and work experience scheme, giving participants the core skills to gain entry level jobs in the horticulture industry without having any previous experience or specialist education.
Bankside Open Spaces Trust teamed up with The Worshipful Company of Gardeners, Walworth Garden Farm and the Royal Parks Guild to deliver the programme, which will run for at least five years. Open to all who want to try out a career in gardening, it is unique in that it does not require entrants to have minimum educational qualifications.
As well as pre-apprenticeship training and a City & Guilds qualification, the budding horticulturists will have their career options enhanced by being introduced to key employers in the sector, including some at London’s finest parks and gardens.
The project is in its second year and has seen spectacular results so far, with almost all of the trainees going straight into employment or further training in the industry.
These funds go a long way towards supporting and changing people’s lives through the power of horticulture. Not only does the programme benefit those involved, but it also addresses the alarming shortage of skilled professionals entering the horticultural industry in the UK.
It’s a key issue at the moment, as 72% of horticultural businesses say they struggle to find skilled workers, with 10% of vacancies taking a year to fill (Horticulture Matters, 2014).
David Green (Master Gardner) said, “The Gardeners Company, together with BOST, The Royal Parks Guild and Walworth Garden are committed to this five year programme and we need the funds to be committed to make this all happen.
"The support, enthusiasm and generosity of both the auction prize donors and the bidders tonight – members of the Company and their friends - has been stupendous and overwhelming in their response and I cannot thank them enough.”
David Domoney said, “It was an immensely enjoyable experience. I’ve always enjoyed being a charity auctioneer, and I was delighted to be in the company of some very generous people - not only those donating the lots for sale, but those purchasing them. Auctioneering not only raises the money, it also makes for a really entertaining evening too, and both were certainly achieved this Friday with a spectacular result.”