Helping Hand for Yorkshires Young People

Wednesday 5 February 2014

200,000 from the Peter Sowerby Foundation will help RHS deliver horticulture training in disadvantaged communities across region

Young people living in Yorkshire will now have the opportunity to build horticultural skills to increase their chances of finding work, thanks to a new Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) programme funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation.

The Peter Sowerby Foundation has donated £200,000 to the RHS to deliver the 3-year programme.

Young people often experience limitations and challenges to accessing existing training and learning opportunities, so the first phase of the programme will focus on engaging youngsters between 16 and 25. This will be widened to engage people of all ages in Yorkshire as the initiative develops.

Traditionally, horticultural learning takes place at land-based colleges but this pilot has been designed to create opportunities for community-based learning in alternative locations across Yorkshire.

Key aims of the initiative are to equip young people with practical skills, to create opportunities for learning linked to future employment, to trigger interest in lifelong learning and to connect with the horticultural skills gap in the sector.

By year three, the RHS Yorkshire team hope nine permanent learning centres will have been established and 650 training opportunities created.

Libby Goodacre, RHS Regional Development management, said: “We’re delighted the pitch to the Peter Sowerby Foundation was successful. This programme will allow us to bring the joys of horticulture to so many young people in Yorkshire who might never have considered it as a career before.

“We’ll be working with some fantastic partners to help us deliver the scheme and to create a regional network of sustainable community enterprises. Everyone in the team is excited by the prospect of launching the programme and to develop a scalable and sustainable model that is, ultimately, intended to be rolled out nationally.”

David Aspinall, Chair of Trustees at the Peter Sowerby Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS in this exciting new project. Our benefactor, Peter Sowerby, is himself a North Yorkshireman and this work focuses on his and, in particular, his late wife Anne’s love of the natural world and horticulture. In today’s economic climate, we need to do all we can to help young people to obtain the skills and experience they need to secure a good career and, through this exciting new initiative, we expect many more individuals to gain access to the fulfilling opportunities available in the world of horticulture.”

The project is a part of a wider RHS investment programme in Yorkshire to bring education and support to grassroots gardeners in the region.

This includes a £100,000 fund scheme. Already, 32 gardening groups have successfully applied for cash and support to fund projects including a homeless charity in Bradford which has built a kitchen garden for its service users.

The RHS Yorkshire team, Libby Goodacre and Sarah-Jane Mason, are responsible for delivering the Peter Sowerby-funded programme.

To find out more information about the RHS investment programme in Yorkshire, please visit: 


Notes to editors

For more information please contact Ed Horne on 020 7821 3356 or

About the Peter Sowerby Charitable Foundation:
The Peter Sowerby Foundation was established in 2011 with an endowment from Peter Sowerby, a retired Yorkshire GP and co-founder of Egton Medical Information Systems, which provides database software to around half of the GP practices in the country. The foundation does not solicit applications, but seeks out projects to support on ways to improve medical thought and analysis, as well as work promoting environmental conservation and activities in Peter’s native North Yorkshire. For more information see

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 209 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262