The Lowaters Nursery managing director said he would do everything in his power for the sector in the face of increased emphasis on food security. He said: "I have a personal concern and I know that my fellow board members will be very concerned that there is always the risk that ornamental sectors will be left out in the cold.
"Now that there is such a strong emphasis on food security we are going to have to fight very hard to ensure that there is some funding there for ornamentals. We have to make sure that we are flagging up the good that the ornamentals sector provides."
Ashton has been a strong advocate for collaboration, training and research and was awarded the Pearson Memorial Medal in recognition of his work. The presentation was made at the recent HTA Garden Futures conference in London.
Commenting on the award, Ashton said: "It is one of those things which is not given out to many people so I am very pleased to be the recipient. If I didn't have the support of everyone at Lowaters I wouldn't have won it."
Ashton is a member of the HTA board, represents ornamentals on the HDC board and is chairman of the HTA's training and careers committee. He is a former chairman of the Lantra production horticulture group and has been a supporter of local colleges and gaining accredited recognition for nursery staff.
The Pearson medal has been awarded once a year since 1930 in memory of the HTA's first general secretary, Charles Pearson.