Today the ‘Tiser can reveal the inspiration behind an award-winning gardening club at an Ilkeston school which has gone on to impress both royalty and famous celebrities with its horticultural excellence.
From its humble beginnings ten years ago when just six pupils showed an interest in Chaucer Junior School’s new gardening club, the group has since blossomed and thanks to the dedicated efforts of relief midday supervisor Kerry Wheatley and her husband Derek, great things have been achieved.
For the second year in succession the gardening club, which now involves more than 90 pupils has won a, Silver Gilt medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.
Kerry Wheatley, whose sons Ryan and James have played a part in the club’s success, as pupils, is still coming down to earth after Chaucer’s second success, which was achieved with an Alice in Wonderland themed entry in the Miracle Growers category at the prestigious London show.
Headteacher Anna Upton, thrilled by the gardening club’s rise to fame, said: “Kerry has sowed the seeds for success. She has been an inspiration and as a result our pupils have benefited big time.
“Our recent win at Chelsea owed much to the innovative Alice in Wonderland entry which saw pupils Lydia Bedford and James Wheatley dress as Alice and The Mad Hatter.”
“More than fifty schools nationwide submitted entries but ours stood out and attracted so much interest. Among those offering their congratulations after our success were Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and gardening expert Monty Don.”
Delighted by the school’s success, modest Kerry and Derek, who almost live on the site of the school’s magnificent garden, said: “We are now waiting to see if our efforts have been recognised by the judges of Erewash in Bloom and East Midlands in Bloom competitions.
“The pupils love being part of the Gardening Club and to win at Chelsea for a second time is a real feather in their caps,” said Kerry.
Her husband Derek was generous in his praise of supportive adults who have backed the school’s efforts.
“Erewash Borough councillor Richard Windsor, Trowell Garden Centre’s Tanya Simpson and David Henstock and the school’s head teacher Anna Upton, among others, have made major contributions and deserve our thanks,” he said.
Gardening Club members Rubie Leatherland and George Brain who are pupils at the school, said: “We love helping out and growing seeds and seeing them mature. We learn something new every day and we are so proud of what has been achieved.
“Mr and Mrs Bentley are lovely and work so hard to encourage us to learn. It is very rewarding.”