THE Mayor of Mid and East Antrim has held a reception to celebrate a garden centre manager’s UK-wide award.
Gary Bissett, who manages Larne’s Inver Garden Centre, was crowned Garden Centre Ambassador of the Year in the Cultivation Street Awards.
Cultivation Street is a national campaign to promote community and school gardening. It was launched in 2012 by TV Gardener David Domoney and has now grown to include thousands of participants all across the UK.
Gary has worked at the garden centre for 22 years, putting his experience to good use by helping youngsters at eight local nursery schools across Mid and East Antrim.
He’s been teaching kids how to sow seeds and grow to help the planet and he also helps adults with learning difficulties and patients recovering from strokes.
Gary said: “It’s rewarding as children are the gardeners of the future. As a parent myself, I think outside the box where funding is limited, using available resources.
“I’m so pleased and proud to have been named as Garden Centre Ambassador for 2019 on a UK-wide stage. I couldn’t have done it without the support from the local community and the staff here at Inver who have backed me from day one and given me this fantastic opportunity.”
Garden Centre Ambassadors are an important part of Cultivation Street, they link up groups with designated members of staff at garden centres across the country to help community groups and schools.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Maureen Morrow congratulated Gary on his well-deserved win.
She said: “A huge well done to Gary for winning this prestigious award. He is not only working with nature, but a force of nature himself, rallying community spirit wherever he goes.
“He has done so much for the local communities, from bringing nursery school children and people living with Alzheimer’s together to share common interests through gardening, or helping recovering stroke patients, he truly is community hero.
“Having worked with Gary on primary school and intergenerational projects over the years I admire his enthusiasm about gardening, his knowledge of plants and his delivery of information to participants that makes gardening fun and interesting for everyone. He is a much deserving recipient of this award.
“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s community plan is called ‘Putting People First’ and you couldn’t find a better advocate for the message as Gary.”
The Cultivation Street judges said: “Gary stood out for his dedication, enthusiasm and the time he spends helping youngsters to become greener.”
To find out more about the awards go to W: www.cultivationstreet.com