BALI Chalk Fund strengthens its board

The BALI Chalk Fund

The past year has been a busy, and exciting time for the BALI Chalk Fund, launching the Chalk Fund Champions initiative, updating the structure and status to better reflect the current and future ambitions, introducing a new category into the Student of the Year (SOTY) programme, as well as appointing 3 new trustees!

Richard Kay was voted on in October 2022 and joined the team for his first meeting as a trustee in March 2023 and is already proving to be a huge asset to the trust.

Richard is the Co-founder and former Chairman of Green-tech, the leading supplier of landscape products to the landscaping, forestry, and horticultural industries.
Green-tech, which was founded in 1994, employed more than 80 local staff, and had a turnover in excess of £20 million when Richard exited the business in 2020.
A former Board Director & National Chairman of BALI. Richard has worked in the landscape industry for 30 years and is passionate about business, and the development of the new generation of young landscape professionals.

On joining the Chalk Fund team, Richard said “I am really looking forward to continuing my support of BALI and working with the BALI Chalk Fund Trustees by promoting BCF Student of the year (SOTY) and the college Enrichment Programme through Throughout my career I have constantly championed young talent coming through this great industry, and I look forward to continuing this within my role at Bali Chalk Fund”.

Stuart Phillips and Sarah Seery were both voted onto the board at the meeting in March, both have education and horticulture in their hearts, and the board can’t wait to tap in to their extensive knowledge of the sector.

Chair of the BALI Chalk Fund Peter Jennins OBE, comments “in appointing Sarah and Stuart we are strengthening the Chalk Funds links with education, which was particularly needed following the retirement of one of our founding Trustees, Bill Simpson MBE, former Principle of Pershore College, who had such vast experience in education in our sector. The additional recent appointment as a trustee of Richard Kay, a former BALI National Chairman, will also be adding his experience, and will be of great value applying his business, and marketing skills to the charity following his exit from Green-tech, we’re very much looking forward to working with all 3 new appointees”.
Stuart adds, “When reflecting on the common trust of my career in horticulture, education has been an underlying trend and, therefore, becoming a trustee of the Chalk Fund would seem to be the natural culmination.

The direction of my horticultural career was heavily influenced by guidance from my father, a head gardener, who recommended that I should not specialise too early in my career, but rather that I should involve myself in every aspect of the industry, if and when the opportunities arose. Consequently, I began with aquatics, building ponds and selling pools, pumps, fittings, fish and plants. From that to grounds maintenance, with brief asides into commercial glass and nursery stock production. Three years on the Kew diploma added landscape design and construction, arboriculture, ornamental glass and technical plant production into the mixture”.
Following his time at Kew, Stuart became a lecturer in horticulture, first at Reaseheath College in Cheshire, and then at Moulton College, Northampton. On leaving full time teaching he developed and delivered specialist training courses for DIY store staff and undertook consultancy work in the UK and aboard. Eventually joining Lantra, first as the Industry Manager for Forestry and Arboriculture within the Sector Skills Council, and then moving to Lantra Awards as a Product Development Manager, project managing the writing of training courses and qualifications.

Stuart is now enjoying being semi-retired, maintaining his contact with the industry as an assessor, and deputy lead assessor, for landscape and horticulture apprentices, and is one of the team of BALI vetting officers.

Stuart reflects “My horticultural career has given me a great deal of personal satisfaction. The opportunities it has presented me with have taken me to Spain, Germany, India, America, Australia, as well as from one end of the UK to the other. Becoming a trustee of the Chalk Fund means that I can give a little back to the industry and help to start others on their careers in the hope that they will find it as rewarding as I have”.

Sarah MCIHort MCCT, is an experienced and qualified Horticulture teacher and worked at Capel Manor College in London for 14 years; initially starting with teaching Horticulture and Landscaping and then progression to Head of Horticulture and Landscaping for 8 years. Sarah’s most recent role is leading on teaching and learning development at the college supporting teachers to develop and progress their skills to ensure that students had the best possible learning experience.
As a career changer Sarah worked in a commercial nursery working with Landscapers, Garden Designers and Landscape Architects sourcing plants from UK and European growers prior to her role at Capel Manor.

Before working in the world of Horticulture Sarah worked at Natural England delivering projects to enable more effective delivery of nature conservation at many of England’s beautiful nature reserves.

Sarah says, “I have a strong belief that by supporting the next generation of Horticulturists, Landscapers and Garden Designers, the industry will continue to strive to be the very best, be innovative, and be a rewarding career. The BALI Chalk Fund is a wonderful enabler in supporting skills development, confidence and to be work ready”.
Trustee Richard Gardiner says “Having worked with Sarah when we were piloting our GoLandscape Enrichment Programme, I know that her skills and knowledge will be a huge asset to the BALI Chalk Fund, and I am so excited that she has been able to accept our invitation to join the board, working in the land based education sector makes her a good fit for BALI Chalk Fund and I know she is looking forward to continuing the excellent work of BCF by encouraging and collaborating with education and training organisations to add value to their students, apprentices and trainees learning experience”.

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