Kraft and literary festival experience for Malvern flower show

Three Counties has appointed former Philadelphia cheese marketer Jane Furze as head of RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

Warner, Nottage, Furze, Alexander-Sinclair
Warner, Nottage, Furze, Alexander-Sinclair

She will oversee the ongoing growth and development of the show, which is a partnership between Three Counties and the RHS at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Three Counties Agricultural Society chief executive Ken Nottage said: "We are delighted to welcome Jane to Three Counties where we have been on a path of significant commercial growth and development over the past few years, particularly with RHS Malvern Spring Festival. I would like to thank the team responsible for delivering this so far and I have no doubt that under Jane’s leadership the festival will continue to cements its position as the premier gardening event of the Midlands and South West. Jane brings with her a wealth of corporate and big event experience in senior management roles and we are all greatly looking forward to working with her."

RHS council member and Malvern Spring Festival joint chairman James Alexander-Sinclair said: "We too welcome Jane to this flourishing festival. Malvern is very much on the up and as a major national horticultural showcase for RHS, it continues to inspire gardeners of all abilities. The future looks bright for RHS Malvern Spring Festival."

In 2014, the show name changed from Malvern Flower Show to Malvern Spring Festival, with a 20 per cent cut in nurseries and an increase in food exhibitors. Visitor numbers were 85,000 in 2011 and 2012, 86,000 in 2013, 87,000 in 2014 after the name change, 57,000 in 2015 and Three Counties has claimed 100,000 for 2016. The RHS pulled out of BBC Gardeners World Live in 2015 after 25 years but is launching a show at Chatsworth in 2017, which it hopes will attract 80,000 visitors.

Furze spent 20 years spent at Kraft Foods, marketing Cadbury, Kenco Coffee and Philadelphia Cheese, then was literature festival director at Cheltenham Festivals.

She said: "I am so excited to be heading up RHS Malvern Spring Festival and working with the team to ensure it continues to develop its gardening, food and lifestyle themes. In addition to the arts, I am a great lover of gardening and the outdoors – I have been an RHS member for years – so this new challenge plays perfectly to my interests and commercial background. Furthermore, I am proud to play my part in developing the profile of the Three Counties, which include Herefordshire and Worcestershire, along with my own home county of Gloucestershire. The 2017 event is already shaping up to be extra special, so watch this space as they say."

Three Counties joint chair Mike Warner said: "RHS Malvern Spring Festival has a rich heritage; it was founded as a gardening show 32 years ago with the vision of bringing the experience of RHS Chelsea Flower Show to our region. The partnership with RHS which came later made Malvern the RHS’s first show outside London. The renewal that we have seen at RHS Malvern Spring Festival over the past three years continues apace with Jane’s new leadership and we are all eager to see where the next phase takes us."

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