Floristry students at Reaseheath College head for the sunny climes of Bermuda
PUBLISHED: 13:01 20 June 2013
WORDS BY MARTIN PILKINGTON PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
Reaseheath College encapsulates much of the best of Cheshire. The elegant grounds abound with immaculate flower beds and borders, there’s a manicured golf course and a lake mirrors the Queen Anne style hall. In short it’s a lovely environment. But City and Guilds floristry students Jen Latham and Emma Ollier are swapping it to work in one arguably even more attractive – Bermuda.
Sue Poole, Programme Leader for Floristry and Horticulture at Reaseheath, explains how their dream job opportunities came about: ‘We have a former student out there, Lisa Holroyd, who was on our NVQ programme. She invited Jen and Emma over, but we’ve also got our former technician who is in Bermuda as well, she went not quite 12 months ago, so we’ll have four of our people out there.’
‘Lisa used to go to college here, and she simply rang up and wanted to know if anyone wanted a job,’ says Jen. It may sound easy, but with the jobs starting well before the end of term they’ve had to accelerate their studies. ‘The staff have been brilliant, we’d not have been able to do it without their help,’ explains Emma: ‘Sue came in two days over the holiday so we could do some assessments that week which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.’
As we speak they are working on their last two assessed displays with just a week to go before their flight.And compressing course work wasn’t the only obstacle.
‘We’ve had to jump through a lot of hoops to get our visas,’ says Jen: ‘Get chest x-rays to show we haven’t got TB, plus have a medical, obtain character references and work references...’. Emma chips in: ‘And a form off the police to say we have no criminal record!’
‘Everyone’s eyes lit up when we heard about it,’ says Jen. ‘But I think when the reality of it hit home a lot of people who had been interested changed their minds,’ adds Emma.
Part of that reality was quitting their previous jobs. Emma, 22, had been working part-time at Mirage Events in Winsford, and 25-year-old Jen at Lily the Pink in Ellesmere Port. They’ll be leaving family and friends too – but not for long, their first visitors are already arranged: ‘We’ve had a lot of Bermuda triangle jokes, “don’t get lost” and so on. But family and friends have been proud - as well as keen to come and see us.’
Clearly much will change for the pair. They are looking forward to learning new floristry styles as they work in Lisa Holroyd’s three shops and help create displays for weddings, corporate events and hotels. Naturally their thoughts also include enjoying the beaches and what they’ve heard is a laid-back lifestyle – witness the national 20mph speed limit, though the bikes they plan to use won’t threaten that.
The first month won’t be too laid back though: ‘We’ve just had a really busy Mother’s Day here but it’s Mother’s Day out there after we arrive,’ says Emma.
Whatever else changes their working environment will still include that characteristic and intoxicating florist’s shop scent that pervades the Reaseheath department.
If that appeals to you, Reaseheath offers courses that cater for interested amateurs as well as those making floristry their career, as Sue explains: ‘We do a host of short courses right from the complete novice to people who have some experience. There are taster days throughout the year, people can come along on a Saturday morning, spend a couple of hours with us doing a design or two to take away and get a feel for whether they enjoy the subject, the environment and the staff.
‘Following that people usually book onto either a leisure or full-time programme. We do leisure courses ranging from eight to ten weeks depending on the terms, then we do beginners’ courses to intermediate and advanced, and there’s also a leisure course which incorporates a national qualification.’
A job in Bermuda can’t be guaranteed of course, but floristry is a £2.2 billion industry in the UK employing some 25,000 people. And for those who just fancy a quick introduction there are one day workshops too, tailored to the season. There’s one on June 22nd on a theme of exploring English Garden Arrangements.
Course information hotline 01270 613242. www.reaseheath.ac.uk Reaseheath College, Nantwich, CW5 6DF.