Overseas placements help student scoop scholarship

Scholarship to help student undertake seed industry study in China.

A horticulture student who was inspired by her father’s love of ornamental plants has been awarded the Floranova Ornamental Horticulture Scholarship. Sophie Loftus is in her final year at Writtle College studying for a BSc in Horticulture. Her choice of degree subject was inspired by her father Michael Loftus, who owns the specialist nursery Woottens Plants Nursery in Suffolk. She said: “It’s mainly due to him that I got into horticulture. I just saw how happy it made him.” Her passion for the subject has led Loftus to take on work placements in France, Greece, Poland and the UK. These placements impressed the judges so much they decided to award her with the £1,500 scholarship, which is handed out each year in association with the David Colegrave Association to an exemplary ornamental horticulture student pursuing a research career. Loftus said: “When I was interviewed for the award the judges were surprised that I had such a range of experience in horticulture. I was absolutely amazed to get it.” Loftus plans to use the money on a “dream trip” to China, where she hopes to learn more about the country’s seed industry. Seeds are a key interest to Loftus, who has conducted seed science research for the Agricultural University of Poznan, Poland. After graduating, she will work for Norfolk-based Floranova after being offered a place on its graduate training programme. Floranova managing director Mike Summers said: “We consider it to be vital to provide support to the reducing numbers of qualified R&D graduates that are coming through the system in the UK.”

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