He was presented with his diploma by HTA regional account manager Andrew Dunkley.
Cruikshank, 25, started at the garden centre as a 16-year old weekend casual worker in 2002, but his excellent customer care skills and desire to learn more about horticulture ensured that he was kept in the business and now holds the position of senior plant sales advisor.
Sally Cornelissen, director of the EHWilliams Group who own Gateacre said:
"Matthew has worked incredibly hard to achieve this result. The diploma is challenging on many levels and demands dedication over a sustained period in order to reach the required standard. Matthew has benefited from the results of independent research and supported learning and I am very proud of his achievement."
HTA training and careers manager Penny Evans said:
"It is fantastic to see garden centre staff blossom through this qualification and that garden centres understand that by investing in training, provides both immediate skills benefits and an improved competitive edge. This is a fantastic achievement and I would recommend all garden centres to celebrate staff success."
The Garden Retail Diploma, managed and administered by the Horticultural Trades Association was developed in association with Skillsmart Retail and Lantra and provides ‘bite sized’ modules which build up to a nationally recognised qualification in Retail Knowledge, accredited by the Awarding Body, LANTRA Awards.