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Winners of the RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2023 revealed

Passionate and inspirational school gardeners up and down the country celebrated with the results of the RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2023, with a whole-school approach to gardening emerging as a strong theme for this year's finalists and winners.

The judging panel, including RHS Ambassador and founder of non-profit Grow2Know, Tayshan Hayden-Smith, RHS Young Ambassador and former competition winner, George Hassall, previous winner, teacher and founder of charity The Papillon Project, Matt Willer, and horticulturalist and Gardeners’ World presenter Frances Tophill, had the difficult job of picking the winners from fifteen finalists, which had been whittled down from hundreds of entries. 
 
The national competition returned this year after a short hiatus, looking to find the most inspiring school pupils and adults who are making a difference in their school and local area through a love of gardening. 
 
The 2023 winners are: 
RHS School Gardening Team of the Year (primary): Sir Alexander Fleming Primary School, Telford, Shropshire 
The whole-school gardening approach and enthusiasm from teachers and pupils at Sir Alexander Fleming Primary School impressed the judges. The team have transformed their outdoor space into a diverse, beautiful garden with a no-dig wildlife meadow, tree planting, bog garden, raised beds and wild corners. Their work has grown from a small group to a whole-school initiative and teachers have noticed the boost the garden has brought to children’s wellbeing, self-confidence and resilience.  
 
RHS School Gardening Team of the Year (secondary): Sandhill View Academy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear 
Sandhill View Academy’s eco team of 30 students from years 7-11, guided by teacher, Aidan Hodgson, have created a space where they can grow zero food miles produce and increase biodiversity within the school grounds. The judges were wowed by the range of young people that use the garden, allowing the whole school to benefit, and the high levels of engagement from the children. The garden incorporates a ‘no pressure zone’ where students can be free and just appreciate the space. 
 
RHS School Gardening Champion of the Year: Felicity Sturge, Guildford High School, Surrey 
Felicity Sturge, a Maths and Politics teacher at Guildford High School, has transformed an unloved patch of land into a thriving school garden filled with flowers, fruit and vegetables for students to enjoy in just two years. Judges were keen to recognise Felicity’s efforts to share the garden with children beyond her school. She welcomes children from 13 local primary schools to come and experience outdoor learning, providing a huge benefit for the wider community.  
 
The winners will receive a Hartley Botanic patio glasshouse for their schools, as well as £500 in National Garden Gift Vouchers. The prizes will be presented in a visit from Frances Tophill.  
 
Alana Cama, Schools and Groups Programme Manager, said: “This year’s finalists and winners are so impressive and uplifting. We were bowled over by the teams of children and young people across the UK who are learning new life skills, encouraging biodiversity and sustainability and experiencing the benefits of giving gardening a go – whether that be making new friends or feeling happier in themselves. This competition celebrates these achievements and those of the adults who, on a daily basis, champion more and more children and young people to pick up tools, garden, grow and care for plants.”   
 
The RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition forms part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which provides free resources and advice to 29,000 schools and groups across the UK: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening
 
Further details on this year’s winners and finalists can be found at: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/nationalwinners
 
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Notes to editors

For further information or images please email [email protected]  

About the RHS 

Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science. 

We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.  

 Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences. 

 Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings.  

For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk.  
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.