A comprehensive school in the Mendips, south of Bath, has developed an international reputation for the students’ pioneering work with orchids. Successes this year have included a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, a school expedition to the Himalayas and a recent trip to South Africa. The Writhlington School Orchid Project has been using Labelzone's Labelstation for its horticultural labelling activities for many years. Thirteen year old Zoë Parfitt and twelve year old Zoe Barnes have been to Durban, over half term, to share the skills they have learnt at Writhlington School at a major international conservation conference.

The girls ran a workshop on orchid micropropagation at the BGCI (Botanic Gardens Conservation International) international congress. Both students are active members of Writhlington’s Orchid Project and were invited to take part in the event after their success at the Chelsea Flower Show. The girls’ trip to Durban has been funded by the award of two bursaries from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and donations from both The Somerset Gardens’ Trust and Norton Radstock Rotary Club. Zoe Barnes explained “We are the youngest people ever to win RHS bursaries and it was our job to represent the best of Britain’s young gardeners. We taught botanical garden staff from all over the world how to grow orchids the way we do at Writhlington and also visited the West Park School to help them to set up their own orchid project.” According to teacher, Simon Pugh-Jones, “It is a great honour to be asked to run a workshop at such a prestigious event and I would like to thank Dr Lauren Gardiner at Kew Gardens who has been instrumental in our involvement with BGCI. The girls worked hard to prepare for the trip and got lots of help from the rest of the orchid club. As well as the workshop the girls were able to work with the staff of Durban Botanic Gardens, gave a lecture to local horticultural societies and had a chance to look for orchids in the wild” “Exploring the bush to look for orchids was really fun.” according to Zoë Parfitt. “We found eighteen different orchid species including one species not recorded in the area before. It was also great to see a Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala and Monkey while looking for orchids.” You can follow the girls’ story by following their Blog on the Royal Horticultural Society website.