Horticulturist Chris Collins has been chosen as this year's recipient of the prestigious Prince Philip Medal, an accolade awarded by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in his role as President of leading work-related awarding body City & Guilds.

Chris, the resident gardener on children's television programme Blue Peter, was chosen as the recipient of this year's award in recognition of the impact that he has on the horticultural industry he went in to as a teenager.

The official presentation was made during a ceremony held at St James's Palace last week. Other recipients at the ceremony included energy supremo Larry Kinch who received a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of his contribution to the energy industry; BBC reporter Caroline Feraday whose Certificate of Achievement was awarded in recognition of her contribution to radio and journalism; and Plymouth City College lecturer Steve Murphy who was awarded the President's Award for his outstanding contribution as a lecturer/trainer. Steve works as a Prince's Trust Team Leader and helped to establish the mentoring scheme at City College Plymouth.

All the winners were honoured to receive royal recognition of their work. Speaking of his award, Chris Collins said: "The news came as a complete shock. I love my job and the industry, which is why I"m always trying to learn as much about it as possible. To receive the Prince Philip Medal is an honour and I"m grateful that my City & Guilds qualifications helped start me on my way."

An apprenticeship at Brighton Parks Department kick-started Chris's career and this was where he took the first of his many qualifications. After a stint as a landscape gardener, Chris took his Royal Horticultural Society General Examination in 1989 and passed his Diploma in Horticulture while working at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens in 1993.

City & Guilds Director General Chris Humphries said: "Chris is a worthy recipient of the 2007 Prince Philip Medal. The dedication he has shown to his profession and his determination to ensure he remains at the top of his game by constantly updating his skills with new qualifications embodies the spirit of people this award was designed for.

"Moreover, the fact that he has used his City & Guilds qualifications as a springboard on to bigger and better things, including working overseas and branching out into the media, means he is a great role model for people just starting out in the industry".

Caroline Feraday, who studied for a City & Guilds qualification in Radio and Journalism at Mid-Kent College in the 1990s, was delighted with her award and said: "This came as a complete surprise. I"ve been in journalism since I was 18 years old and I feel honoured to receive not just recognition, but royal recognition for my work."

Larry Kinch, who set up his own energy company, Petroleum Engineering Services in Aberdeen agrees, "I have worked in energy for as long as I can remember. To receive royal recognition for my work over the years is truly an honour."

Meanwhile Steve Murphy said, "When I first started out in my new career as a lecturer and trainer, I was worried that it would be hard to adjust and build a long-term career in the industry. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my peers and the professional training I have received, I have been lucky enough to establish myself in the industry and can use my skills to help and motivate others. To receive royal recognition for my work is a real honour."

Rosie Spowart


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