Me & My Job - Jim Bless, RHS schools adviser for London

How did you get started? I've always loved growing things so when I left the RAF I started out by doing the RHS General Certificate in Horticulture at night school, where I received a distinction. During this time I completed a three-month voluntary internship at RBG Kew and volunteered at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Two years ago, I completed the RHS Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture. I felt like a sponge trying to take everything in and I was delighted to receive the Top RHS Trainee Award at the end of the course.

Jim Bless, RHS schools adviser for London - image: RHS
Jim Bless, RHS schools adviser for London - image: RHS

What does your job entail? Encouraging more schools to become involved in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, through which children are taught about plants and gardening and teachers are provided with resources and lesson plans to help schools make the most of their gardens, regardless of their size.

What does your typical day involve? A typical day for me involves travelling to various schools across London, talking to project workers, having a look at what they have been doing and suggesting potential ways forward for the garden. I might then do a number of sessions for the pupils - for example, on worms and seeds with the help of the teacher running classes throughout the afternoon. I also run twilight session for teachers, teaching assistants and volunteers from other schools to get ideas and train them in key horticultural skills. So far we have more than 10,000 schools signed up to the campaign but we are aiming to get a further 3,000 on board by 2011.

What is the best part of your job? The best part is being able to do something I am wildly passionate about and pass a bit of that on to the next generation. It's really rewarding work - there is no greater access to the community than through its children. There are so many ways in which gardening can supplement and enhance the national curriculum.

How do you wind down after a hard day? By making dinner - picked from the garden, of course.

What does the future hold? Expanding the campaign and taking the positive message of gardening to every school in London - and teaching Matilda, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, more gardening skills. She's already showing a lot of promise.


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