Keep your Fork Marketing's Faye Smith, who works on Ferndale's marketing, has nominated Grant for a Guardian small business showcase award. She said: "I am nominating Neil for his innovative leadership of the centre’s team through some terrible seasonal weather, which saw tens of thousands slashed off sales. Still he maintained his commitment to inspiring children into gardening.
"Neil came up with the concept of an undercover real beach for the summer. Children love the fun of the beach along with creative, traditional beach food in lunchboxes.
"Neil has since developed children’s campaigns related to national awareness events such as tomato, vegetable and barbeque week, allotment week, nest box week and national gardening week. Children’s events are offered, such as how to grow a magic bean or make miniature garden. A vegetable puppeteer is planned for May half term.
"The cafe has been refurbished and extended and children’s craft activities are proving increasingly popular.
In May, Neil, who also co-hosts the BBC Radio Sheffield gardening programme, is also launching a National Children’s Gardening Week which has industry and local media backing.
"He has also brought the centre into national Growth Accelerator programme (a Government backed scheme that helps small businesses improve) , and is a member of the Wilford Group of top independent UK garden centres.
"The results are coffee shop growth of over 30 per cent and gift shop, outdoor living and garden plant sales growing too."