Young gardener named country’s best

East Durham College Horticulture Lecture Dawn James and Chris Parsons.
East Durham College Horticulture Lecture Dawn James and Chris Parsons.
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IT was third time lucky for a young gardener who scooped a national title.

Former East Durham College horticulture student Chris Parsons has been crowned the winner of the Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

Chris, 23, from County Durham, previously missed out on the top spot, but this year was crowned the winner of the contest.

After successfully winning the initial area heat at the Houghall Campus, Chris went on to qualify for the grand final after winning the Northern Regional final.

And, after finishing second in the Grand Final in 2011 and 2013, it was third time lucky for talented Chris.

Along with the prestigious title of Young Horticulturist of the Year, Chris also picked up a number of other prizes including the Percy Thrower Travel Bursary of £2,000, giving him the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world.

Chris said: “It felt great to win the competition and it was a huge relief that I would be free of having that pressure looming over me again.

“The YHoY competition has been brilliant and over the last four years that I have entered, I have met some excellent like-minded people from all over the country. The competition this year was exceptionally strong.”

Now, Chris, who runs his own gardening business, is busy deciding where to go with his travel bursary.

He said: “I am still exploring my options for spending the bursary money. The mountains of both Taiwan and Vietnam sound interesting and I would really like to go and see the flora in either of those places.”

The competition, now in its 25th year, saw nearly 2,000 students from across Britain and Ireland taking part in local heats and regional finals, with eight making it through to the final.