Belfast Telegraph

Nerves and excitement for Northern Ireland duo ahead of Chelsea Flower Show

As the annual Chelsea Flower Show gets underway this week, two students from Northern Ireland are preparing to compete in the prestigious competition.

Clare McAuley (22), from Comber, and 17-year-old Eilis Quinn, from Camlough, Co Down are both studying floristry at the College of Agriculture Food & Rural Enterprise at Greenmount.

They will be competing in the RHS Young Chelsea Florist of the Year Competition.

Speaking about her presentation for the show, Clare said: "It’s a floral kite and we will be judged on colour, technique, idea and composition - so there has been lots of designing and trying out different techniques over recent weeks to get it right.

"You have to have really good technical skills, they like a good creative idea. They are looking for your interpretation of the brief, which this year is 'Summer Skies'.

"Basically the judges want to see what you have come up with and how you have achieved that.

"Everything has to be really good quality, the flowers can't be damaged or anything like that, they are very particular about that. It has to be a really high standard."

She continued: "I am very nervous about competing, but I'm mostly excited and I'm really glad that we have the opportunity to go, because I never would have thought that it was something you could just enter and go to."

Eilish added: "It has all come around so quickly. It's overwhelming but it's exciting."

Both girls won their place in the competition following a preliminary heat at Greenmount in February. They were among the top 16 entries in the whole of the UK, meaning they could go forward to the final round of the competition.

With such a great experience to add to their CV, both Clare and Eilish are looking forward to the future once they graduate from CAFRE.

"I'd like to continue working in floral creations and I'd like to gather some more experience doing work for the likes of TV and film because it would link in with my degree in media studies - it would be great to combine the two."

"I would love to stay in the floristry industry and I would love to open my own business," added Eilish.

"Over Easter I went to work at a florists in Belgravia in London, which is owned by a past student of CAFRE and I'll be going back in the summer to do some work experience."

The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from May 23 - 27.

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