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Written by Hannah Dunne
Dee Watkins, Vicky Hutton and Tracy Benton were among those rewarded for their contributions to the flower industry at the BFA awards, as the three lecturers achieved the highest assessment results in the country.
It's a brilliant result for Chichester College where both Dee and Vicky are based. We spoke to Tracy, who lectures at Hadlow College, when she had just completed the course – read her comments and see her work here.
Dee was presented with The Haybittle Trophy after she gained the highest marks in her Level 4 practical exam. The Level 5 practical highest achiever award is shared jointly by Victoria and Tracy.
They decided to update their qualifications when the new HDF (Higher Diploma in Floristry) and MDPF (Master Diploma in Professional Floristry) qualifications were introduced for their own CPD. Plus they wanted to ensure that they were technically up to date and in-line with current trends and techniques so that their students could benefit from the highest level of teaching.
Both Dee and Vicky have over 25 years of industry experience, having owned their own shops and worked abroad as florists. Despite their rewarding careers, they admit being recognised with an award is still incredibly exciting, as Dee explains:
"I was teaching when I received the news but had to keep quiet until the ceremony. It was very hard as I was bursting with pride! I couldn't believe it! I am so glad that I decided to take the qualification as part of my continued professional development, when I eventually did tell my students they were delighted and very proud.
"I had always fancied teaching but had never pursued it. In my florist I used to take students on work experience and loved showing them techniques and the tips of the trade. They used to say that I would make a good teacher because I was so patient and made them feel confident. It made me think that perhaps I could look into it.
"I was lucky enough to find a part-time floristry lecturer role at Chichester College. I completed my teacher training and have now been here for six years. I have never lost my passion for floristry in all the years; it has just got stronger and stronger, now I have another passion.....teaching! When I am with my students, I am in my element.''