National Garden Scheme bursary supports new trainee at West Horsley Place

The West Horsley Place Trust has welcomed its first ‘work and retrain as a gardener’ (WRAG) trainee.

The WRAG scheme, launched in 1993 by the charity, Working For Gardeners Association (WFGA) and supported by the National Garden Scheme, provides paid part-time practical horticultural training through carefully sourced garden placements where trainees learn under the instruction of the head gardener.

Lizzie Bourke (left), from Reigate, Surrey, will be the first WRAGS trainee to work at West Horsley Place. Lizzie will spend one year there learning from head gardener, Nicky Webber, and her placement will be generously supported by a bursary provided by the National Garden Scheme.

Lizzie Bourke, said: “I am really looking forward to spending the next year at West Horsley Place, working alongside head gardener Nicky and all the wonderful volunteers who bring so much of their own experience to the gardens.

“I was secretly hoping to land somewhere special, but West Horsley Place goes beyond every expectation. It will be such a privilege to work in the gardens, showing them off to their full potential and planning for the future. It will be an exciting year of creativity, hard work and much learning.”

The provision of this placement is an important step for the West Horsley Place Trust in becoming a centre for creativity and learning. The charity’s vision is for the site to become a space for the community to enjoy arts, culture, history and nature.

Head gardener Nicky Webber said: “We are delighted to welcome Lizzie to West Horsley Place, and are very grateful to Alison Hepworth from WFGA and also to the National Garden Scheme for kindly making this placement possible.

“We have five acres of wonderful walled gardens at West Horsley Place, dating from the 18th century and now grade II listed. Along with the manor house and wider estate, the gardens had fallen into disrepair and, as we move forward with their restoration, we are learning more and more about their fascinating history.  A high point was the discovery earlier this year that our serpentine wall is the oldest surviving example in the country.

“Understanding the history of the gardens is key to their restoration. In addition to opening to visitors, the gardens will provide further opportunities for local people to volunteer and learn through our future programme of arts, crafts, history and natural heritage activities.”

Ben Pearce, director of West Horsley Place Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lizzie to West Horsley Place and I want to give our collective thanks to WRAGS for this support.”

You can find out more about the National Garden Scheme’s support of apprenticeships and bursaries here

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