Students from Writhlington School have just returned from South Africa with a Gold Medal won at the country’s most prestigious flower show, the Cape Town Flower and Garden Show.
The school exhibit featured a working orchid micropropagation laboratory and a group of five expert students aged between 13 and 15 years old demonstrated techniques developed at Writhlington.
As well as wowing the judges and attracting large crowds the exhibit featured on two TV channels, a radio station and in several newspapers. Luke Shackleton aged 14 explained “We became local celebrities and we were recognised when we went to restaurants.”
In addition to demonstrating Writhlington’s horticultural excellence the visit was a focus for developing orchid based conservation enterprise in South Africa. Writhlington Pupils trained members of the Londolozani, a Womens’ Orchid Legacy Project, in propagation techniques and visited the Erica School in Cape Town where the laboratory used at the show will be permanently installed.
According to Writhlington Pupil Luke Barnes aged 13 “visiting the school was the best part of the whole trip” and in turn Erica School principle Jonathan Dennis described Luke as “An inspiration to my pupils, showing what can be achieved by young people with passion, skill and determination.”
Teacher Simon Pugh-Jones who lead the trip said afterwards “I am really proud of my team. It was a real challenge to travel half way across the world and stage a top class exhibit but everyone worked really hard. We had fantastic support from our South African hosts. We were given accommodation at the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve by Cape Nature, transport from National Car Rental, and the individual support of many wonderful South Africans. I am really excited for the future of orchid project at the Erica School. I also look forward to the benefits Writhlington pupils will gain from working with our new friends in Africa.”