Ten students have successfully completed their training in social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) at garden therapy charity Thrive thanks to a bursary created last year in the name of the late Charles Notcutt OBE.
The Charles Notcutt Memorial Bursary was launched in January 2015 to enable five students to complete Thrive’s Award in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture.
More than 50 people applied and Thrive shortlisted ten excellent candidates – in light of that Notcutts agreed to fund all places.
This year Notcutts has agreed to fund another bursary scheme and made a donation of £4,000.
Thrive helps hundreds of people each year at one of its three regional centres, or in the community, and the charity plays an important role in training people from a range of backgrounds, including health, social care and horticulture, or people who are looking for a new career.
Damien Newman, Thrive’s National Training, Education and Consultancy Manager, said: "More and more people from different backgrounds are deciding to embark upon a new career in social and therapeutic horticulture.
"We offer 'Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture’ workshops that provide a great introduction and provide careers advice and connect people with opportunities to volunteer.
"And Thrive can help people who want to take their training further, or become professional horticultural therapists, to study courses that we run in collaboration with Coventry University and Pershore College. In total around 700 people access our training programme each year."
One bursary recipient from 2016 was Lucy Burley, an occupational therapist at a Hospice in Wiltshire (pictured right with patients
). She had already seen the benefits gardening can bring to patients and had embarked on a number of projects.
She said: "This award has given me the confidence to progress the use of horticulture as a therapeutic tool as part of our Live Well services. I’d now like to broaden the opportunities for gardening across the hospice to enable patients and families unable to access our community allotment to engage with gardening activities."
Samir Arslanagic from Devon works with adults in social care within a horticultural setting at The Eden Projects Nursery. He said the more he learns about STH he realises the depth of the subject and was keen to study with Thrive.
"It was great to receive the bursary and the knowledge I gained from doing the award has been invaluable and has resulted in a more considered approach to my practices and effective delivery.
"It has also enabled me to pursue my aspirations to establish an organisation that specialises in STH garden design. Completing the award along with my other studies has led me on a path towards applying for the MSc in STH at Coventry University."
And Rebecca Clarke who works for the charity Jobs In Mind, a mental health charity based in London, co-ordinates and delivers the Urban Growth programme. She said the award has enabled her to pass on her training to a number of volunteers who dedicate their time to help her on site.
"My confidence has increased in a professional capacity and this has had a positive impact on the many individuals who attend this project who have severe and enduring mental health needs."
Caroline Notcutt, Vice Chairman of Notcutts, said: "We are delighted to be supporting Thrive for the second year running. It is wonderful to see how the Charles Notcutt bursary is helping people who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or living with disabilities reap the many wellbeing benefits of gardening to bring a positive change to their lives."
Looking to the future, Damien describes horticultural therapy movement as being "on the crest of a wave" and as it continues to gain credibility as a proven, cost-effective treatment that could help vulnerable people with a range of support needs and save the NHS millions of pounds each year, it is little surprise that the interest of the medical profession has been aroused.
There are currently around 11.9 million living with a disability in the UK. In order to ensure that many more can experience the benefits of gardening for health and wellbeing, Thrive believes it is essential that a new generation of professionals and practitioners are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to offer credible, high quality therapy sessions across the UK.
Damien added: "Thrive, alongside others in Green Care, the National Gardens Scheme who recently commissioned a report by The King’s Fund; Gardens and Health: Implications for policy and practice, the Horticultural Trades Association and RHS have been promoting gardening for health and wellbeing, making connections with the medical profession and trying to get Public Health to recognise the value of Horticulture for health and wellbeing.
"More calls for doctors to 'prescribe gardening’ mean we could see a huge demand for people who have knowledge of horticulture and have been trained to use horticulture as a therapy in the coming years."
For more information about Thrive and the training opportunities they offer visit