Young gardening star inspires pupils on school visit

RHS Young Ambassador George Hassall (righ) with Chaucer Junior School gardening club members, headteacher Anna Upton, school governor James Dawson, local sculptor Rachel Carter and gardening ambassador Kerry Wheatley.
RHS Young Ambassador George Hassall (righ) with Chaucer Junior School gardening club members, headteacher Anna Upton, school governor James Dawson, local sculptor Rachel Carter and gardening ambassador Kerry Wheatley.

An Ilkeston school welcomed a green-fingered VIP last week as the Royal Horticultural Society’s first youth ambassador dropped in to plant some ideas about gardening.

George Hassall,11, chose Chaucer Junior School as the destination for his first ever official school visit on Monday, April 3.

Chaucer has a growing reputation for its gardening programme, and George, a former Young Gardener of the Year from Manchester, wanted to find out all about it.

The school’s gardening and community ambassador Kerry Wheatley, 46, said: “George had seen what we’ve done over the last four years at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and with our gardening blog.

“Our pupils treated him like royalty, they were so excited to meet him and ask questions. He’s such a charming young man and an inspiration to gardeners of his own age. It’s very impressive. I can’t thank him enough for coming.”

Kerry has been running the Chaucer gardening club for 14 years, and it now has more than 100 members - around half of all pupils.

George swaps gardening tips with school ambassador Kerry Wheatley.

George swaps gardening tips with school ambassador Kerry Wheatley.

They tend their own plot every day, venture out into Ilkeston on special projects like planting around the Cenotaph or Victoria Park, and enter competitions.

Kerry said: “We’re very proud of the club, and the kids take great pride in the garden. It’s really good for their wellbeing and another way to excel.”

Earlier this year, the school also opened a new garden area on site, which it hopes parents and members of the community will get involved with.

George did the honours of planting the garden’s first vegetables, a crop of potatoes and onions. He also met local sculptor Rachel Carter, who has donated two artworks for the garden, school governor James Dawson and paid a visit to Trowell Garden Centre.

To learn more about Chaucer’s gardening efforts, go to www.chaucerjunior.org.uk.