Delight as trio make final of Chelsea Flower Show competition

From right, Vicky Abbott, Rebecca Hough and Allan Raby.
From right, Vicky Abbott, Rebecca Hough and Allan Raby.

Two floristry students and their teacher are among the finalists to compete at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Staff and students at East Durham College received the news they had made it through to compete at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the Florist of the Year 2018.

Floristry lecturer Rebecca Hough, 29, from Peterlee, along with two of her talented students, Vicki Abbott, 26, from Hartlepool, and Allan Raby, 50, from Thornaby, all made it onto the 16-strong shortlist after taking part in one of the regional heats that took place right across the country.

The talented trio will now travel to London to complete against each other, as well as a number of professional florists, in a bid to be crown champion at the world’s most prestigious flower show that inspires millions and leads the way in innovative garden design.

The finalists have been challenged to create a floral throne for a spring wedding.

Rebecca, who has teaches at the college’s Houghall campus in Durham City, said: “If the college had managed to have one person in the final that would have been amazing, but for three of us to make it through to the finals is truly astonishing. We pride ourselves on the quality of our floristry teaching here at Houghall and, over the last few years, have increased the number of competitions we encourage our students to get involved in; it really helps to build their confidence and challenges them to push their skills to the next level.

“Whatever the outcome at Chelsea, to have competed at the pinnacle of the profession will have been an amazing experience for all three of us.”

Vicky, who has suffered in the past with extreme anxiety and struggled with leaving the house, faced her fears by enrolling on a level 2 floristry course last September. She said: “I hadn’t even made a bouquet before last year; now I’m making a floral throne for the Chelsea Flower Show in London. I really am in shock!”

Floristry is a big change for Allan, who used to run and own The Oak Public House in Middlesbrough.