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IOH Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 Northern Regional Final

Is it third time lucky for Chris Parsons?


Saturday March 22nd was another superb demonstration of horticultural knowledge, in all its strange guises for Chris Parsons, as he won this year’s IOH Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 Northern Regional Final. Chris has won the regional final three times in the last four years against stiff opposition and won the first prize of £150 plus a spade and fork set sponsored by Bulldog Tools. With an audience of more than 40 sponsors, employers and family to support them, the eight contestants showed themselves to be amongst the best young horticulturists in the North of England.

Chris Parsons 1st

The final was held at the independent research station, Stockbridge Technology Centre ( ) near Selby and the Director, Graham Ward and his staff provided a fabulous location for the young people. He gave competitors and visitors an inspiring presentation and a conducted tour of the research facilities, highlighting some of the more important research being carried out for farmers and growers. The prizes were presented by Graham Ward and Nick Smith, the newly appointed Director for the Harrogate Flower Shows, our major regional sponsor.


Chris was competing against seven of the best young horticulturists from across the IOH Northern Region, with nearly 140 students and employees having taken part from seven different colleges and organisations in the initial round of the competition in January and February, and he will now go on to the Grand Final at the John Innes Centre, Norwich on May 10th to compete against the seven other Regional winners from across Britain and Ireland for the coveted Percy Thrower Trust £2000 Travel Bursary and a chance to travel anywhere in the world to study horticulture.


Our Regional Final contestants, in place order, were:


1st  – Chris Parsons, an ex-student from East Durham College ( )

2nd – Peter Edge from Alnwick Gardens (

3rd – Sian Nichol from Northumberland College ( )

4th  – Hannah Wilson from The Himalayan Gardens ( )

5th -  Katie Benallick from the University of Sheffield ( )

6th – Adam Robinson from Askham Bryan College ( )

7th – Jay Neild from Shipley College ( )

8th – Jack Grice from The Garden Centre Group ( )


The competition, both regionally and nationally could not run without the generous support of a wide range of sponsors. These include:


Percy Thrower Trust – national sponsors of the Grand Final and travel bursary

Horticultural Development Company ( ) – national sponsors

MorePeople (  – national sponsors

The Garden Centre Group – national sponsors

Rollins Bulldog Tools (  – national sponsors

North of England Horticultural Society (NEHS) – IOH Northern Branch Regional competition sponsors (





Editors notes:


The competition

  • The 2014 competition has been open to any horticulturist who is below the age of 30 on 31 July 2014.
  • The competition is run in three phases: local heats and open heats for those not able to get to local and regional colleges, followed by eight Regional Finals and the Grand Final.


  • The competition is organised by the Institute of Horticulture through an organising action group.


  • Local heats are based on multiple choice questions on a wide range of horticultural topics, through an MS PowerPoint presentation. The heats are organised by eight Institute Regional Organisers and take place at colleges, garden centres and anywhere else where competitors may gather. To take part in the 2015 competition, contact the Administration Team on 01992 707025 or email


  • Heat winners go forward to one of eight Regional Finals, usually run in March and April, in which a Question Master asks a wide range of horticultural questions, some on a buzzer, some directed to individual contestants, with three identification rounds to further test the contestants.


  • The winner of each Regional Final then goes forward to the YHOY Grand Final, which this year is on May 10th at The John Innes Institute, Norwich ( The format is the same as for the Regional Finals and the questions are drawn from all sectors of horticulture.


  • The overall winner collects the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, worth £2,000, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society.  This funds a horticultural tour anywhere in the world.  Previous YHOY winners have visited China, Borneo, New Zealand, the Himalayas, the United States, South America and various parts of Europe.


  • There are plenty of prizes at Regional Final and local heat level as well.  The value of prizes in the 2013 competition topped £12,000, thanks to the generosity of a wide range of sponsors.



The Institute of Horticulture is interested to hear from companies who would be willing to offer financial or other sponsorship at all levels of the competition for 2015 and beyond. Please contact the Administration Team on 01992 707025 or email:


Media enquiries:

Chris Bentley

Institute of Horticulture

Capel Manor College

Bullsmoor Lane




Tel: 01992 707025

Email: –

Website: -


Facebook: – IoHort


Twitter: –  @IoHort

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