Welsh Prison Wins Top Garden Award

Thursday 14 September 2017

Royal Horticultural Society Prize goes to Wales for the First Time

A Welsh prison has won the coveted Windlesham Trophy award for the best kept prison garden in England and Wales, judged by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

HMP and YOI Parc, a Category B men's private prison and Young Offenders Institution in Bridgend is the first prison in Wales to win the annual competition which has been running for over 30 years.

The award was set up in 1983 by the former Chairman of the Parole Board, Lord Windlesham, to develop prisoners’ sense of worth and encourage garden excellence among the prison community.

RHS Director of Education, Funding and Communities, Ruth Evans, presented the trophy, an engraved Green Goddess fire engine bell, to HMP and YOI Parc staff during a ceremony at the prison on 8 September.

The large, modern prison houses 1,750 prisoners, of whom around 15 work on the extensive gardens at any given time. Every available space has been brought to life with plants, including a herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, living roof and vegetable and herb gardens that are used to grow fresh produce for the prison kitchens.

Speaking at the ceremony, HMP and YOI Parc’s Director, Janet Wallsgrove, spoke about the importance of the gardens: “For me, the role of any prison is to keep secure individuals who have been given a custodial sentence, yet also to provide opportunity to bring about change. The importance of the environment within prisons is greatly underestimated – prison gardens reduce violence, improve mental health and teach horticultural skills.”

An RHS judging panel, led by Robert Haslam and including Fiona Crumley and Jon Wheatley, assessed HMP and YOI Parc along with fellow finalists HMP Bure in Norfolk, HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, HMP Hull and HMP Whatton in Nottinghamshire. They praised Parc for “the breadth and quality of the horticulture on display”.

The judges were impressed by the ingenuity shown in the creation of the various displays, incorporating the skills from all departments within the prison and the enthusiasm displayed by the gardens team for horticultural work and in passing on their skills and knowledge to the prisoners.

Mike Thomas, who leads Parc’s horticultural team said: “We are absolutely delighted to win the Windlesham Trophy. It’s only the second time that we’ve been a finalist in the competition so to scoop top prize is fantastic and testament to all the hard work put in by the staff and prisoners.”

He also outlined the role that gardening plays in offenders’ rehabilitation: “We provide prisoners with the training, skills and confidence to pursue a career within amenity horticulture. They can work towards NVQ horticultural qualifications and other certificates of competence.

“The bright colours in the gardens lift everyone’s spirits, and the calm, tranquil parts of the garden are used as chill out spaces by both staff and prisoners.”

HMP Hull and HMP Whatton were awarded joint second place in the competition.


Notes to editors

For more information and images, please contact Claire Weaver in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3688 or email claireweaver@rhs.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

About the Windlesham Trophy
Lord Windlesham, then Chairman of the Parole Board and also a former Minister of State at the Home Office, proposed an award scheme for the best kept prison garden in England and Wales in 1983.

During the course of his visits to prisons he had “become increasingly conscious of the value to prisoners of devoting part of their time and energies to gardening”. He suggested that an annual awards scheme would:

• give this interest added impetus
• recognise the effort put in, and
• reinforce the sense of achievement and satisfaction obtained by prisoners from seeing the results of their work brightening up their environment

Home Office officials, Lord Windlesham and the RHS agreed the formula and judging criteria for the competition, provisionally entitled “The Prison Gardens Scheme”. The name ‘The Windlesham Trophy’ was decided following Lord Windlesham’s presentation of the trophy - a highly polished brass bell from an old ‘Green Goddess’ fire engine, suitably engraved and mounted on an oak plinth.

The competition is strongly felt to be of benefit both to prisoners, as originally envisaged by Lord Windlesham, and also to encourage and motivate staff.

The first competition was held in 1984 and has been keenly contested by many entrants in subsequent years.

It is evident that staff are strongly motivated and encouraged by the scheme and competition is fierce. Lord Windlesham felt that prisoners gain enormous benefit from the work, which allows them to gain useful qualifications, develop a strong work ethos and provides a high level of satisfaction shown in the final results. The RHS has remained very dedicated to the competition over many years.

Lord Windlesham demonstrated his ongoing commitment, returning every year to present the Trophy at the winning establishment until 2001. Since then, the RHS has presented the award.

Bulldog Tools
Bulldog Tools has been established for 237 years and has a reputation for making quality tools famous for their strength and reliability. We are very proud to be the sponsor of The Windlesham Trophy which we have been involved with for the past seven years.

In supporting such an important initiative which crucially improves the lives of prisoners, their environment and potentially gives them an area in which they can find employment in their future, we find that we can promote gardening in all its forms as a healing and productive activity for everyone of every age.

To find out more about our tools please go to: www.bulldogtools.co.uk or get in contact with Sarah Cottle, Bulldog Tools Brand Manager email: sarah@rollins.co.uk  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, 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. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

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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 www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262