When did you attend Bethany?
Sept 2001 – July 2008
What are you doing now?
I went to Harper Adams University and did an Agri-Food, Marketing and Business degree after doing a gap year in New Zealand working on a dairy farm; really hard work and absolutely amazing experience. University was also a really valuable experience as well, as a placement year was part of the course so we were able to apply we were learning on the degree in a working environment.
I worked for a vineyard straight out of University for a year doing marketing, accounts, shows, admin and shop management. This was a great experience, but very stressful and not exactly what I wanted to do. I felt I wanted to do something more creative (I did ignore my creative side in school when choosing A Levels as I thought I would not get a job using the arts). It wasn’t until I was actually working in the job I thought I wanted, that I realised how important creativity was to me and my happiness.
I found a Florist Apprentice job in Tenterden. This was only a part time role, but I stayed on with the vineyard part time as well as doing a Floristry Diploma at Plumpton College. I got my diploma and carried on working both with the Florist and Vineyard for 4 years and I have also just done another floristry course at a higher level for more advanced designs, also at Plumpton College. I am now running my own business alongside working two days a week.
My business ‘Bramble & Twine’ is also in floristry; I don’t have a shop, but I work from a workshop at home specialising in British-grown flowers. I do weddings, event flowers, bouquets, workshops and boxed flowers delivered to the home. I have lived in Etchingham now with my partner, Tom (who I met on placement) and our Spaniel, Bramble, for five years now. I am also very involved in the Kent County Show, as a steward. This year, I am also designing a large display of 22,000 knitted poppies to celebrate the WW1 Centenary. It has been a busy few years!
What is your favourite memory of life at Bethany?
I have got numerous favourite memories from Bethany. I loved Art, so the art, textiles, pottery and also photography lessons always bring back great memories. I was also a Prefect, which gave me a good grounding in taking on responsibilities. From year 7, I always remember taking part in numerous things at school – Orchestra, Choir, Steel Band, being a support for younger pupils, helping with various events – I rarely had a free lunchtime! And that I think, was through the teachers and staff being supportive and encouraging, pushing me to get the most out of life and getting involved in everything you can.
Did you have a favourite teacher/subject?
Obviously, Art was my favourite! But I also enjoyed French a lot. I love it and Madame Ducoulombier was a fantastic teacher. She was so enthusiastic and passionate about her subject and she put in some much effort into making it fun and interesting. She always went the extra mile, coming in for extra lessons and bringing croissants too. And she was a great friend as well, always there with advice and support.
How did your experiences at Bethany help you in your career?
My experience at Bethany gave me the opportunities to develop as a person and academically. I also conquered learning difficulties in Mathematics and English, gaining confidence in myself and in what I was working on. Subjects like Music and Drama – although they weren’t my favourite – helped me gain the confidence to perform and stand up in front of an audience. Winning awards at Speech Day also gave me confidence that what I have done and what I am doing now will be noticed and appreciated. Being a Prefect also gave me experience in taking on responsibilities. Bethany School gave me so much help and support and got me to where I am today. Collectively, all the staff, the facilities and the size of the school is what makes Bethany what it is today.
What advice would you give a Bethany pupil looking to work in the same field as you?
Pupils who are interested in floristry should be creative – think outside the box as it is competitive especially with supermarkets offering more and more flowers. If possible, start getting experience as soon as you can. This would mean maybe helping out on a Saturday at a local flower shop. It won’t be arranging flowers from the very beginning, there will be a lot of cleaning vases and making tea at first. You must be prepared to work your way up from the bottom and work hard. But it is all worth it in the end. If you love being creative, being busy, hard working and obviously love flowers then this is the job for you.
Look into doing an Apprenticeship as I think this is the best way in learning a new job role. Even when I was at Uni, I had experience in the industry. It is vital to gain an understanding of the job and applying what you learned within a working environment.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Follow what you are passionate about. You will do you job for (hopefully) a long time and so it needs to be something that you love doing. Do not ignore the areas that you enjoy and excel at; there are job opportunities everywhere. If you work hard and persist, you will get there.
What do you value most about being connected to Bethany and The Bethany Network today?
Keeping in touch with the School and seeing how it is developing. I also enjoy keeping up to date with news about other pupils and teachers.