IGCA welcome younger garden centre owners for congress and Barton Grange visit

The introduction of a programme for younger delegates revitalised last week's IGCA Congress, say organisers.

IGCA chief executive Gillie Westwood said this led to more in-depth discussion and analysis being included in the schedule.

She added: "The 24 delegates had the time of their lives all due to the enthusiasm of their bus leaders Tammy Woodhouse, Millbrook Garden Company and Will Armitage, Armitages Garden Centres. It is hoped that the study tour concept will be repeated for future congresses."

There were 220 delegates from 17 countries, including 44 from Japan at this year's congress.

The event was based in the North West of the country visiting 13 garden centres in the area including Bents, Barton Grange, Gordale Garden Centre, Burleydam and All in One.

The six-day programme also included visits to the private gardens of the Duke & Duchess of Westminster; to Holker Hall where Lord Cavendish personally greeted and walked delegates around his gardens to Chatsworth House, Trentham Gardens and JCB.

GCA chief executive Gillie Westwood said: "One of the highlights, of which there were many, was the group arriving by canal narrowboat at Barton Grange at Brock. The group boarded a flotilla of 11 narrowboats in Garstang to be transported to the marina at the garden centre.

"Not only were the group amazed by the hospitality on board the boats and the unique mode of transport but they were blown away by the standard of retailing at the Barton Grange; one Australian delegate said 'there must have been a terrible coach crash on the motorway down here (to Barton Grange) and we all died only to wake up in nursery heaven!' Praise indeed."

At the end of programme the Congress Team raised £1,060 for Greenfingers.

The Organising Committee was: Guy Topping, Chairman; Sue Allen; Jason Stafford; Jill and Peter Nicholson; Gillie Westwood; and Pat Adams.

The Team who worked as Bus Leaders were: Sue Allen, Millbrook Garden Company; Jason Stafford, All in One Garden Centre; Paul Cooling, Coolings Nurseries; Reinhard Biehler, Baytree Nursery & Garden Centre; Jill & Peter Nicholson, Gordale Garden Centre; Carol Topping, Barton Grange Garden Centre; William Notcutt, Notcutts Garden Centres; Tammy Woodhouse, Millbrook Garden Company; Will Armitage, Armitages Garden Centres.

The "Beer Bus" who followed the group with refreshments was run by Ed Tarbatt, Bridgford Garden Centre and Martin Cowell, Cowells Garden Centre.

The next IGCA Congress is in Japan on 10-15 October 2010.


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