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Young Hillier Takeover Back for Chelsea 2017


The 2016 Hillier Academy on the Hillier Chelsea stand with Carole Klein

May 2017 –  Budding horticulturalists will take centre stage on Friday 27th May at the Chelsea Flower Show as they look after one the biggest exhibits at the show.

For its 2017 Chelsea exhibit, Hillier is championing the future of the industry in a number of ways; by the inclusion of 26-year-old Caitlin McLaughlin on the design team (2016 RHS Young Designer of the Year) and through the return of the Young Hillier Takeover.

The takeover by the young ‘Hillier Academy’ team is now in its third year and takes place on the Friday of show week. It gives a select team of young and passionate horticulturists the chance to man the exhibit, share information about the garden with visitors to the stand and, perhaps most importantly, look after the hundreds of plants that will make up the ‘Spring’ by Hillier garden.

The Hillier Academy 2017 is made up of management trainees and apprentices that work within the Hillier business, together with students from one of the largest land-based colleges in the UK, Writtle University College, with whom Hillier enjoys close links. The team of 13 members are all under the age of 27.

With over 150 years of history and experience behind the company, Hillier is a champion of new talent and ensuring future generations are supported in horticulture. The family-run business is itself a testament to this, as the fifth generation of the Hillier family is actively involved in the business from the ground up.

George Hillier commented: “At Hillier, we are passionate about supporting new horticultural talent and future generations, which is why we are so delighted to have Caitlin on our design team this year and be hosting the Hillier Academy day again. It offers a fantastic opportunity for all those involved and can provide them with the first steps in their horticultural careers.”

Meet The Hillier Academy

Chris Abbess

Visual Merchandiser, Hillier Nurseries

“Working for Hillier has given me a vast amount of variety and experience in many different aspects of the business and Horticulture – from running a garden centre to spending time working in a restaurant and on the nursery.”

Thomas Bach

Student, Writtle University College

“My interest in horticulture developed as I became more curious about my large woodland garden in Buckinghamshire. My first step into the profession was an internship at Kew Gardens, working alongside horticulturists for collections in the herbarium, palm house and tropical nursery.  This has led to me pursuing a degree from Writtle.”

Molly Banting

Operations Administrator, Hillier Nurseries

“I have worked at Hillier for over three years. The main reason I wanted to work within horticulture at Hillier was the amazing training opportunities offered and, since being here, they have always looked into developing me further.”

Thomas Brindle

Student, Writtle University College

“I discovered a passion for horticulture during my time travelling. It was interesting to see how countries used and valued their own green spaces and highlighted the importance of horticulture in different cultures. My main interest is helping provide the benefits of horticulture to people in whatever space they have.”

Matt Chatfields

Management Trainee, Hillier Nurseries

” I have always had an interest in horticulture, which encouraged me to join Hillier. I have always had a strong passion for propagation. At Hillier, I am inspired on a daily basis by a wide range of plants as well as meeting and working alongside interesting and knowledgeable people. I look forward to continuing my career with Hillier and helping out at Chelsea.”

Matt Clark

Hillier Nurseries

“After leaving college with a Conservation Diploma, I knew I wanted to be in a practical job where my skills would be best used and I thought Hillier was just the place. Since starting at Hillier, it didn’t take me long to realize that I liked working with such a warm and welcoming company. Each day is a new surprise, with different plants and trees.”

Michelle Fisher

Student, Writtle University College

“Chelsea Flower Show is always a fantastic occasion and I am pleased to have attended with Hillier for the past two years. From a young age, I have had a great passion for horticulture, with a particular interest in ornamental production. This industry has offered me many incredible experiences already and I hope for many more in the future.”

Peter Gill

Assistant Section Leader, Hillier Nurseries

“Horticulture wasn’t ever a career I had thought about, but since starting at Hillier I have discovered it is something that offers a lot of excitement and satisfaction. Now I run my own department that grows over 250,000 plants a year. This has given me different life skills and built my confidence in the workplace.”

Lucille Gilpin

Student, Writtle University College

“Coming from a small mixed farm in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, working with the land is something that has always interested me. The ever-changing future for production horticulture has made this an excellent time to graduate, with my education enabling me to put my stamp on UK production.”

Isobel Mills

Wholesale Nurseries Sales Executive, Hillier Nurseries

“The Hillier Management Apprenticeship has let me gain qualifications and grow my love and knowledge in the horticulture industry. I am excited at the prospect of plants being developed and believe horticulture as an industry is forever new and exciting.”

Thais Montanari

Student, Writtle University College

“My passion for sustainability, food and innovation encouraged me to pursue a horticulture degree and I have only recently begun to appreciate the weight these ideals occupy in the industry. I feel gratified for having taken this path and for the varied and significant careers now open to me.”

Declan Stafford

Management Trainee, Hillier Nurseries

“My interest in horticulture started from an early age when my parents used to take me on walks in the local forests. Having completed a Level 3 BTEC National Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture, I decided a job in horticulture with Hillier was right for me as it could offer me training in many aspects, plus increased confidence and life skills.”

James Storer

General Assistant, Hillier Garden Centre Banbury

“My garden centre career started when I was at college. I really liked the atmosphere, customers and the products, so chose to work full-time in the industry after college.”




For further media enquiries about Hillier, or wider features about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please contact:

Paskett PR                           01332 258335

Holly Daulby                       07850 314040          


Notes to Editors

About Hillier:

“To inspire the creation of green living spaces for now and the future”

Hillier is the most successful exhibitor in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, having been awarded 71 consecutive gold medals.

The company was founded in 1864 by Edwin Hillier and remains a family-run nursery with the fifth generation now actively involved in the family business as it continues to grow. The company employs over 500 staff across its wholesale nursery, trees and 12 garden centre divisions, and grows approximately two million plants a year. It is the largest tree grower in the UK.

Over the years, Hillier has been responsible for numerous plant introductions, many of which have become essentials in British gardens and it continues with the tradition of innovation and the introduction of new garden plants in the present day.

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