Grace received the national award after achieving the highest practical mark in the Level 4 City & Guilds Diploma in Floristry while working as manager of Fareham based florist Knot Just Blooms.
She said: “I’m still in shock. It’s an amazing achievement - I didn’t expect it. I had to travel to York to sit the exam. It was a long drive and a long exam, so to get that result was a real achievement.”
Grace completed her Level 2 and 3 floristry qualifications at Highbury before starting her part-time Level 4 diploma in 2019 which due to the pandemic took longer than planned to complete.
She said: “The pandemic was difficult. We didn’t see each other for six months but were still expected to have the motivation to carry on doing your work when you’re not really seeing each other face-to-face.”
The secret to Grace’s success was having a good support network. She said: “I’ve got my family and my work family - they’ve been amazing. Everyone’s just been so supportive. Anything I needed help with, everyone’s wanted to get stuck in. They gave me that love and support I needed.”
Grace encourages anyone thinking of a career change or becoming a florist to give it a go.
The 29-year-old said: “I didn’t think I’d ever do floristry. It was pure accident that I chose to study it. I looked in the paper and saw that Highbury had an open day. When I went there the tutor got us to put some flowers together and I thought ‘I could see myself doing this."
“You can put your heart and soul into it, and it’s such a lovely job. It’s one of those things where I think if you want to go for it, give it a go. Everyone’s got the talent, it is there. It’s artistic and it’s fun – don’t let age put you off.”
Lorraine Williams, co-owner of Knot Just Blooms also trained at Highbury College before launching her business in 2018. Lorraine said: "As a shop we’re just completely and utterly proud of her. There were times when she felt like giving up, but we just kept pushing her to keep on going. We all work really close together, as a family, and we all learn from each other. Grace is amazing and a pleasure to have in the company. She works above and beyond and deserves this."
Floristry tutor Emma Gaylor said: “Congratulations Grace. You worked so hard to achieve this fantastic result, which you thoroughly deserve. It’s been a tough couple of years, and it’s been a privilege to help you gain the skills you need for a blossoming career. Everyone at Highbury College is very proud of you and we wish you every success for the future.”
Interim CEO of Highbury College (part of City of Portsmouth College) Graham Morley said: “I want to congratulate Grace for this well-deserved achievement. Grace is a credit to the College and the community. We’re very proud to have been a part of her exceptional learning journey. Well done!”
Find out more about our floristry courses here