Meet the RHS Judges – Team 5

By on 9th August in Garden

Britain in Bloom judging is happening over the next 2 weeks with the judges working in teams of 2 and visiting the 76 finalists. So let’s meet the teams!

Rae Beckwith
Rae worked as Area Manager for Gateshead Council for 20 years.  During this time he has led his team to victory in Britain in Bloom in 1990 as well as 7 finalists since 2003.  He sits on two ‘In Bloom’ local group Committees and was delighted to receive an Award of Commendation from the RHS in 2006 for his work with Whickham and Rowlands Gill.

He has been a member of the Guild of Horticultural Trade Display Judges for 10 years and judges at major shows around the country.  Rae is Area Advisor for the Royal National Rose Society and is Chairman for the Daffodil Society (Northern Group).

For many years he has served as Chairman of Houghall Horticultural Training Committee.  During this time many new training initiatives have been developed in conjunction with College staff.

Currently Rae is Show Referee for Gateshead Summer Flower Show and is Senior Steward in the Daffodil Marque at Harrogate Spring Show.  In what spare time remains Rae, together with his wife Susan, run a small Daffodil Nursery growing and hybridising new cultivars.

OTHER: Rae has been a judge since the age of 13. He began by judging rabbits, then canaries, then dogs and, finally, flowers. He is a huge daffodil fan and daffodil grower. His favourite songs include John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Louie Armstrong’s ‘All the Time in the World.’

Rae’s grandfather was his mentor and introduced him to gardening. On his 4th birthday, his grandfather presented him with a present – a matchbox full of Cocker Spaniel tails!

Rae grows soft fruit in his garden but unfortunately, rabbits have recently eaten all of them this year.

As well as horticulture, Rae also likes live-stock. When he was 6, he was at a country fair and, without his granddad noticing, bought a pig. By the time his granddad noticed it was too late and he was made to carry it back on a bus. They ate the pig that Xmas.

Rae was on tour in Belfast and his plane caught fire! They had to make an emergency landing and jump in a 3-hour taxi ride. When he finally arrived at the hotel, he found it was shut.

Sharon Thomas

Sharon has always been interested in horticulture and formalised this in 1996 at the Welsh College of Horticulture where she gained a HND in Landscape Science, this started her professional career in local government from 1998, working in the East Midlands area in Parks Development and Maintenance.

Sharon first became involved in East Midlands in Bloom in 2003, leading Mansfield’s entry; she was hooked and became a regional judge the following year, working her way to Vice Chairman. Sharon has also been a Green Flag judge for 5 years.

In 2006 Amber Valley Borough Council appointed Sharon as Landscape Development Manager, where her team is responsible for all aspects of recreational open space including town centre development and improvement including regional In Bloom entries.

Out of work Sharon enjoys judging local garden competitions, developing her own garden and is Vice Chairman for Pilsley Allotment Association, where she is currently launching a community allotment shop and children’s club.

Sharon is delighted to be part of the National Team and hopes her enthusiasm and experience can be of use to In Bloom communities.

OTHER: Sharon’s garden is only 18-months old but has come along way. There is a dead fern in the centre of the garden that she doesn’t have the heart to pull out. She see’s it as a pet and is currently growing Clematis up it, ‘so it doesn’t look sad.’

Sharon is an old blues fan, loves modern R&B, Moby, Duffy and Adele at the moment. Aside from being a judge, Sharon also trains Cocker Spaniels for field trails. She does this in the winter.

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