Barriers stop children from taking part in garden shows

Children aged under 16 are unable to help their parents at RHS garden shows but are learning the trade at non-RHS events, HW has found.

At Hampton Court earlier this month, 15-year-old garden designer James Callicott was banned from planting his garden because of health and safety rules that do not allow under-16s on "construction sites" before garden shows open.

And at Tatton Park last week, 70 Winsford Educational Partnership school children had to be corralled behind a fence to plant their 20 front-to-front gardens after the RHS beat health and safety rules by adhering to a string of onerous conditions and risk assessments.

Show exhibitor and Potash Nursery owner Mike Clare said: "At RHS shows you can't have anyone under 16 setting up because they deem it a building site. My eldest son is eight-and-a-half and he will help me set up at other shows.

"To encourage another generation to come on, they need to be able to go to shows. At the moment, the RHS does the biggest shows and they need to be able to come here. My son will go to the Suffolk show and help me set up. The RHS is very conscious about health and safety, but if you go to the big county shows, they permit children."

Winsford Educational Partnership organiser Kevin Smith said: "This is the first time this has ever been allowed at an RHS show. The area was fenced off to make it safe. It's been brilliant - the children loved it. I don't think people realise how hard it is to organise. It took months."

RHS show manager Kris Hulewicz explained: "We did special risk assessments and put in place various safety measures so it was as safe as possible and there was no way anyone could interfere with the children."

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