Party for Perennial declared success

The first Perennial party fundraiser in a century was declared a great success last night as more than 300 people from across the horticulture industry converged on The Roof Gardens in Kensington.

John Foley (left) with partner Kate Lawson. Picture Jonathan Ward/Ginger Horticulture with thanks
John Foley (left) with partner Kate Lawson. Picture Jonathan Ward/Ginger Horticulture with thanks

The 'Party for Perennial' raised thousands from ticket sales, pledges and a charity auction.

BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Rachel de Thame named naked calendar fundraisers the Grubby Gardeners, volunteer co-ordinator and fundraiser for over 15 years, George Kestell, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Majestic Trees and Coblands Nurseries as winners in the first Perennial Champion Awards.

Chairman of the Professional Gardeners Guild, Tony Arnold, was named 'Top Individual' after raising £5,018 by himself by wearing green lipstick, a wig, nail varnish and green tights to work for a day.

Landform Consultants managing director and chair of the Association of Professional Landscapers Mark Gregory was also revealed as the first Perennial Ambassador.

But it was a success story which really brought the reason for the event home to the gathering.

Company director John Foley and BBC Young Gardener of the Year 2012 spoke about how his family business Holden Clough Nursery nearly went under when his father developed an eye-threatening disease in 2002.

"Perennial helped him with his financial problems, they paid for me to learn how to drive and that allowed me to go to college to learn more about gardening and to develop the business by setting up a landscaping service.

"I was able to take the nursery over and make a proper career of it." A decade after his father got ill, Foley was named Young Gardener of the Year and had won three gold medals at Tatton Park Flower Show for his floral displays.  He has been running the business with his girlfriend Kate Lawson since 2009.

"If Perennial hadn’t been involved in the early days keeping the business going and helping support my interest in gardening we wouldn’t be where we are today," he said. "Perennial have been a great help and they could be a great help to you.

He gave the charity a big thank you and urged people to dig deep to support the fundraiser.

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