In 2015, the NFU and Waitrose pulled out from backing the 'shop window' exhibit of UK producers of flowers, fruit and veg. Waitrose was part way through a sponsorship deal that was worth an estimated £50,000 a year. The UK Horticulture display was at Chelsea for 35 consecutive years and Riley won 33 gold medals up to 2015.
The NFU and Waitrose said they would return in 2016, but will now not be at the show. The NFU had backed the stand since the 1960s but is believed to have felt it did not receive the TV coverage it wanted.
Riley had a place at Chelsea 2016 and from late 2015 had been looking for new sponsors after learning the NFU and Waitrose had decided to not be involved in 2016. She needed £15,000 to cover costs, with much of the plants, produce and materials, from growers and the likes of Bradstone, provided in-kind or at cost.
There were 40 UK growers ready to contribute to the stand in 2016, which would have covered 50sqm of the Chelsea pavilion, as opposed to the 100sqm it used to be.
The stand would celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday with a display celebrating British producers, such as Sue Lamb Flowers and Geaters.
Riley said: "We will go along to Chelsea this year and invite people who are interested in sponsoring for 2017. I’m hopeful of finding funding earlier for 2017. The RHS wanted us to do something this year which was nice but we’ve not been able to raise funds but I’m looking at it positively with a view to next year."