A high school teacher from Reepham has been named the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Gardening Champion of the Year.
Matt Willer (pictured), who teaches GCSE and A Level History at Reepham High School and College, won the prestigious title after launching the Allotment Project in 2015 on an abandoned corner of the school playing field.
Mr Willer has since encouraged more than 100 students from the school to get involved in the scheme as volunteers, and they now grow organic produce for the school kitchen and the local community.
The RHS was impressed with his back-to-basics approach to maintenance, with grass cutting done by sickles and scythes, and containers made from old car tyres, wooden pallets and sinks.
The RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition was designed to showcase the impact that gardening can have on children’s learning, development and wellbeing.
The RHS said Mr Willer’s passion for the environment, sense of teamwork and desire to create a space for young people to escape the day-to-day pressures of secondary school, has inspired all those who work with him.
He is totally committed to leading the Allotment Project, described by the headteacher as “one of the most educationally complete pieces of work I have ever seen in schools”.
The RHS judges described Mr Willer as a “selfless guy who is both inspirational and awe-inspiring.
“Watching Matthew’s [entry] video and seeing the beautiful space he has built with his students is such an inspiring and energising experience. His message about how we can turn the world into a better place by engaging with nature is a lesson to us all. It’s stirring stuff.”