Heather has returned home with a Gold Medal, having competed in the BFA (British Florist Association) UK Skills competition 2013 in Birmingham NEC. On the 13th November Heather and I headed off to England to the UK Skills competition filled with excitement and trepidation. Having reached Birmingham on a cold crisp evening, we struggled with two suit cases and a heavy tool box before reaching our hotel. After 1 hour trying to find the hotel we were exhausted and glad to fall into our soft comfortable beds. We awoke at 6.30a.m, breakfast at 8.00 a.m. walked to the NEC centre a little nervous to register for the competition. Heather was focused and ready to compete.

I dropped Heather off at the BFA stand, wished her luck and off I went around the show grounds with butterflies in my stomach, but full of confidence. Heather was focused; you have to have the staying power and lots of energy to get you through this competition. The training and preparation work had been completed, and now was the time for Heather to shine, and shine she did. The competition consisted of 5 tasks. The overall theme “Party Time” A Floral Screen, Free expression design, 1st surprise item, a body adornment and a 2nd surprise item.

After two very long days competing and a team fun activity on the Saturday. It was time for the Closing Medal Ceremony that evening. The ceremony began at 7.30p.m. The experience of the ceremony was like being at the Olympics the scene was set. A beautiful white stage was set with Gold, Silver and Bronze medallist tables, fantastic lighting and technology. The room was full of nervous competitors, tutors, family and friends. You could feel the buzz of excitement in the room.

We were entertained with music during the evening, an amazing dance routine from talented young dancers.

After lots of clapping and sore hands it was time for the “Social and Professional Services”; Heather competed in the Floristry section. Up came the list of Bronze, and Silver competitors names on an enormous screen. No sign of Heather’s name. I waited in anticipation then Gold – Up I jumped and screamed so loud SHE HAD DONE IT! Gold for Heather ( I knew she would) then came the tears of joy. I am so very proud of Heather for all her dedication and hard work in achieving this brilliant Gold medal. Many many congratulations Heather. I wish you all the very best in life in everything you do, and thank you for choosing me as your tutor and mentor. It has been a privilege to have taught you and equipped you with new skills and knowledge during the past year. The world is your oyster now. Grab it with both hands and enjoy!

You can see more photos from the event here!

Local Florist in Bid to Become National Champion at “The Battle of the Best”


Many congratulations to Heather Hume an Advanced Floristry student who has attended the Yolanda Campbell School of Floral Art & Design over the past 2 years. Yet again Heather has been selected to enter The WorldSkills UK National Championships, to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, on the 13th-16th November 2013. I wish Heather every success in the competition and it has been a privilege to have taught her.

Heather Hume, aged 44, of Randalstown is a past student of CAFRE College, Greenmount and presently studies underof Yolanda Campbell’s Floral Art & Design School, Dungannon. Having worked at The Flower Shop, Whitehead and Budding Designs, Randalstown, she is now working part time as a freelance florist.

Heather, who originally worked in a bank for 13 years, explains why she chose her career in floristry:

“I went to an open night at CAFRE with my son, who was thinking of studying here. I saw the floristry course, enrolled, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then to further my skills in design I attend Yolanda Campbell’s school which I have found to be creative and inspirational and has opened my eyes beyond imagination! I regularly compete when possible and I wish I had done it years ago.”

Heather won her regional heat of World Skills UK back in 2010 & 2012 in Advanced Floristry reaching the finals in Birmingham last year she is now back and looking forward to this year’s event.

“Entering the competition gives you valuable experience and a good benchmark for personal achievement. Constructive feedback from the judges encourages me to improve and progress.”

The Malvern Tour 9th – 14th May 2012

“Good fun, very enjoyable and inspirational”, these words I have heard many times during and after the six day tour to Malvern Spring Horticultural Show and four well known gardens.
  We travelled to Malvern on the Belfast Cairnryan ferry and then to Malvern in a mini bus superbly driven by Yolanda and assisted by Beverley, stopping en route for lunch and finally arriving at our first B&B, Henwick House, Worcester, around tea time.
  Malvern Show is a large horticultural event with excellent trade stands, show gardens, floral art exhibits and competitions, in fact more competition entries under one roof than I have ever seen and all of a very high standard. This was the start of the shopping we acquired plants, seeds and floral art accessories, urns, pots etc.
  The first garden we visited was Yolanda’s “surprise garden’’ Stockton Bury near Kimbolton in Herefordshire, a very old four acre medieval garden complete with pigeon house, orchards, cider press and a tithe barn and many pools. This garden housed an extensive collection of plants providing colour an interest throughout the year.
  Stone walls and hedges were used to provide shelter and to support some fabulous Wisterias and Climbing roses and also divided the garden into many ‘rooms’ creating interest and shelter for some very old plants such as tree peonies with blooms the size of a side plate in a stunning range of colours. This garden was full of what I call old cottage garden plants with a surprise hidden away which made us all laugh!
  Next stop was the garden of international flower arranger/artist, horticulturalist George Smith MBE and Brian Withill in Heslington, York. George is has clients all over Europe and has arranged flowers for members of the Royal Family.
  After a brief history of the mid-eighteenth century Manor House George was delighted to show us around his stunning three acre garden, sheltered by brick walls and divided into the ‘old orchard’, the walled white garden, gravel garden, Mediterranean garden and two pools complete with a wild duck and ten ducklings. This garden was beautiful, not manicured but very well managed and thoughtfully planted out.
  After afternoon tea and a short tour of his exquisite home we were shown some beautiful seasonal garlands made for Chatsworth House and given the opportunity to buy some plants which we will all treasure.
  The RHS Harlow Carr garden near Harrogate was next on the list. This garden is dominated by water stone and woodland, all fitting into the existing landscape. There are many gardens within this garden, examples include -The Kitchen Garden, The Scented garden, ‘Gardening Through Time’ and the Foragers’ Garden. Unfortunately we did not see this garden at its best because of the early spring and the cold and wet. We were either too early or too late, as very little had bloomed or blossomed. However the alpine house and very clever willow structures made for a variety of purposes compensated.
  On our last day, en route to Cairnryan, we visited David Ryland’s garden near Carlisle. David is a farmer, professional florist and no stranger to NIGFAS. His five acre garden is situated on the side of a south facing hill and features herbaceous borders, ponds, pergolas and a woodland walk complete with what we in N. Ireland refer to as a’ sheugh’ from which one or two of us had to be rescued!
  At the end of the tour of this super garden we were treated to afternoon tea and a short demonstration in David’s converted barn /studio with swallows flying in and out attending to nests in the roof.
  It was a pleasure to have met George Smith and David Ryland , both made us more than welcome and I would encourage anyone travelling in that area to visit their beautiful gardens.
  The four gardens we visited were all different because of geography and site but were all planned to fit in with the natural landscape, create shelter and to encourage wildlife.
  The tour from start to finish was meticulously planned and when we were not walking through gardens in an array of fancy ‘welly boots’ we shopped in the beautiful town of Ledbury and explored the converted Salts Mill, near Harrogate. A visit to the theatre was also included to see the hilarious ‘Birds of a Feather’, starring the original cast.
  Our accommodation was in two super B&B’s one just outside Worcester and the other, a farmhouse, near Ripon in Yorkshire with very comfortable beds and great food.
  Food became a part of the tour, often joking that it should have become a Garden and Gourmet tour. Just as well we did so much walking!
  All too soon it was time to return home with lots of plants from each of the gardens which will remind us for years to come of our very happy tour to Malvern.
  Thank you again Yolanda for all your hard work in planning the tour and driving us around on this most memorable and enjoyable trip.

Marjorie McGrath

Educational trip to England

I am very much looking forward to taking my students on an Educational trip to England to put theory into practice. We shall be visiting The Malvern Spring Show, and some beautiful gardens in the surrounding area, then moving onto Harlow Carr RHS Gardens in Yorkshire where a surprise is awaiting us. Back on the road up to the Scottish Highlands. A trip to remember.

Why not combine a weekend break or short holiday and treat yourself to one of our special Summer one day workshops in the beautiful countryside of County Tyrone where you will receive a warm Irish welcome. See booking page.

We can also accommodate small group bookings on these workshops. Please contact school for further details.

Follow our links for suitable accommodation.

Floral awards

Many congratulations to all my students who have been successful in gaining awards in floral design competitions across the province. They have gained many 1st , 2nd and 3rd prizes in different classes both in the Novice, Intermediate and Advance classes. They have competed in NIGFAS competitions, The Belfast Spring Show, Ballymena Show, Omagh Show, Fermanagh Shows and many more. I look forward to hearing about your future successes.

Unique floral handbags for mums

Children’s workshop: floral handbags were created on a piece of wet oasis covered with ivy leaves with an arrangement of roses, limonium, and studded with an edging of brunia albiflora. The design was then embellished with bullion wire, and pearl-headed pins. An acrylic flower was incorporated into the design as a focal point. It was a brilliant morning and the children really enjoyed themselves.

A tea cup surprise!

Adult workshop: ideal for Beginners and learners with some experience. The aim was to complete two stunning designs for the home. Using a large tea cup and saucer we created a modern design incorporating “feeling green” chrysanthemums, cerise dianthus, skeletonised leave, midelino sticks, and silver bullion wire and many more exciting sundries.

Our second was created using a clear cubed glass container decorated with a single Anastasia chrysanthemum embellished with a collar of raffia, studded with a large beautiful diamante pin. Different coloured oasis was used to enhance this design, and skeletonised leaves to add to the finishing touch.

Hedgerow heaven!

Adult workshops: especially for Advanced learners. Using plant materials from the hedgerow, all learners gathered bundles of Queen Anne’s Lacy or Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) to construct a free-standing container. This task took several hours to complete as balance was of the utmost importance. The construction was built with stems and pins and then the flowers of the Queen Anne’s Lacy was used to fill the free-standing container which was then placed into a natural styled container filled with water. A real challenge to achieve a container which stood upright. A lot of patience and skill was required for this task, however lots of laughter on the way.

Cara Dillon “ By Candlelight” Concert

I was privileged to have been invited to decorate the staging for this most prestigious singer who was born in Dungiven, Co. Derry. The stage was filled with soft cream phalaenopsis orchids and plants extending 40 feet of staging which were placed in black decorative boxes. Either side of the stage stood beautiful large scaled wooden glass lanterns filled with enormous cream candles, and a line of 25 smaller lanterns where placed on the floor. Certainly a candle lit concert with “quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice”. Q Magazine


Heather Hume - Gold medalist
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