The Charles Notcutt Memorial Bursary was launched in January 2015 to enable five students to complete Thrive’s Award in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture.
More than 50 people applied and Thrive shortlisted 10 candidates – in light of that Notcutts agreed to fund all places. This year (2017) Notcutts has agreed to fund another bursary scheme at a cost of £4,000.
Thrive is the UK’s leading authority on using STH and training people in the profession. Social and therapeutic horticulture is a process where horticultural therapists use the garden and the garden environment to build a set of tasks for the people they help; those living with disabilities or ill health, or people who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable. STH is a proven therapy which comes under the wider umbrella of green care and is now, more than ever, being widely used to help people.
Thrive helps hundreds of people each year at one of its three regional centres, or in the community, and the charity plays an important role in training people from a range of backgrounds, including health, social care and horticulture, or people who are looking for a new career.
Damien Newman, Thrive’s National Training, Education and Consultancy Manager, said: "More and more people from different backgrounds are deciding to embark upon a new career in social and therapeutic horticulture.
"We offer ‘Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture’ workshops that provide a great introduction and provide careers advice and connect people with opportunities to volunteer.
"And Thrive can help people who want to take their training further, or become professional horticultural therapists, to study courses that we run in collaboration with Coventry University and Pershore College. In total around 700 people access our training programme each year."
One bursary recipient was Lucy Burley, an occupational therapist at a Hospice in Wiltshire. She had already seen the benefits gardening can bring to patients and had embarked on a number of projects.
She said: "This award has given me the confidence to progress the use of horticulture as a therapeutic tool as part of our Live Well services. I’d now like to broaden the opportunities for gardening across the hospice to enable patients and families unable to access our community allotment to engage with gardening activities.
Samir Arslanagic from Devon works with adults in social care within a horticultural setting at The Eden Projects Nursery. He said the more he learns about STH he realises the depth of the subject and was keen to study with Thrive.
"It was great to receive the bursary and the knowledge I gained from doing the award has been invaluable and has resulted in a more considered approach to my practices and effective delivery.
"It has also enabled me to pursue my aspirations to establish an organisation that specialises in STH garden design. Completing the award along with my other studies has led me on a path towards applying for the MSc in STH at Coventry University."
And Rebecca Clarke who works for the charity Jobs In Mind, a mental health charity based in London, co-ordinates and delivers the Urban Growth programme. She said the award has enabled her to pass on her training to a number of volunteers who dedicate their time to help her on site.
"My confidence has increased in a professional capacity and this has had a positive impact on the many individuals who attend this project who have severe and enduring mental health needs."
Caroline Notcutt, Vice Chairman of Notcutts, said: "We are delighted to be supporting Thrive for the second year running. It is wonderful to see how the Charles Notcutt bursary is helping people who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or living with disabilities reap the many wellbeing benefits of gardening to bring a positive change to their lives."
Looking to the future, Damien describes horticultural therapy movement as being "on the crest of a wave" and as it continues to gain credibility as a proven, cost-effective treatment that could help vulnerable people with a range of support needs and save the NHS millions of pounds each year, it is little surprise that the interest of the medical profession has been aroused.
There are currently around 11.9 million living with a disability in the UK. In order to ensure that many more can experience the benefits of gardening for health and wellbeing, Thrive believes it is essential that a new generation of professionals and practitioners are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to offer credible, high quality therapy sessions across the UK.
Damien added: "Thrive, alongside others in Green Care, the National Gardens Scheme who recently commissioned a report by The King’s Fund; Gardens and Health: Implications for policy and practice, the Horticultural Trades Association and RHS have been promoting gardening for health and wellbeing, making connections with the medical profession and trying to get Public Health to recognise the value of Horticulture for health and wellbeing.
"More calls for doctors to ‘prescribe gardening’ mean we could see a huge demand for people who have knowledge of horticulture and have been trained to use horticulture as a therapy in the coming years."
To apply for the bursary visit http://www.thrive.org.uk/charles-notcutt-memorial-bursary.aspx.
Meanwhile, ‘Anniversary Splendour’ has been chosen as the winning name for a new rose, as part of a national competition run by Notcutts Garden Centres in celebration of their 120th anniversary this year. Christine Trickett from Pontefract in Yorkshire has been crowned joint-winner of the competition, alongside Julie Yeomans from Norfolk who suggested the same name. Both winners were amongst 4,000 people across the country inspired to enter the competition.
Anniversary Splendour is now exclusively on sale at Notcutts’ 18 garden centres nationwide, with its vivid pink blooms and superb fragrance. UK rose breeders, Harkness Roses bred the rose especially for Notcutts over the last six years, to ensure it is hardy, disease resistant and will thrive in a border or pot.