British garden centre staff selected to attend IGCA congress study tour in Italy

Ashley Bains from Barton Grange.

The UK’s Garden Centre Association (GCA) Trust has selected Louise Kemp from Coolings Wych Cross Garden Centre and Ashley Bains from Barton Grange to attend this year’s International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress (2023), happening in Northern Italy between 24-30 September 2023.

The two candidates will receive a sponsored place at the IGCA Congress in September as part of the Dick Allen Scholarship Award Scheme.

Louise Kemp.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Will Armitage says: “We are delighted to announce that Louise and Ashley are this year’s successful applicants and we wish them all the very best for September.

“The Trustees were thrilled to receive so many applicants for The GCA Trust’s IGCA delegate places this year. After much deliberation, our two candidates were carefully selected for this year’s congress study tour to Italy in September.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the applicants and assure them that it was a very close call. We are very much looking forward to hearing all about Louise and Ashley’s experiences in Italy when we meet at the 2024 GCA Conference at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park in January.”

The object of the GCA Trust is to advance among the general public and, in particular among horticultural students, education in horticulture, and particularly garden centres, by the provision and administration of scholarships and bursaries, including prizes to foster such education.

The Trust also aims to assist horticultural students to study, research into and gain experience of horticulture.

Gary Carvosso, Chairman at Coolings explains: “We are delighted that Louise, who has shown such flair in her retailing and leadership skills to date, has been awarded a place to attend the IGCA conference. Her passion for the industry is remarkable and this is a great opportunity for her to visit many world-class garden centres in Italy.

“Spending time with highly successful and motivated retailers from all over the world will undoubtedly broaden her horizons further. The lasting impact will be very positive for both Coolings future, as well as Louise’s career.”

Louise started in 2016 at Wych Cross, working for Wyevale as part of the plant sales team, she eventually led the plant area team. In 2019, Coolings purchased the site and shortly afterwards Louise was promoted to site manager.

Meanwhile, Ashley is a senior member of the outside sales team at Barton Grange.

He explains: “I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to go on the IGCA tour. It’s a great opportunity for networking and meeting like-minded people. It will also help me gain confidence in meeting new people, as this is not something I would usually do.

For the company, I hope to bring back some fresh ideas or different ways of doing things, as well as sharing our own methods of working with others.”

Ashley has been with Barton Grange since October 2019.

Guy Topping, Managing Director at Barton Grange, says: “I’m so chuffed for Ash. He’s a great lad who will make the most of this opportunity and will contribute well to the group.”

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