Tina and Julie worked with Karen many years ago at Bicton College and they are delighted that she has joined the Academy team this September. We recently had a blast from the past when photographer John Eustace sent us some photos he took of us back in 2008, and we would like to thank him for these they are a great keep sake.    

Karen, Julie and Tina at Bicton College in 2008

We asked Karen to tell us a bit more about herself. Hopefully you will meet her in person either on our flower arranging courses or week level 2 in Exeter.

How did you first get into the world of floristry?

I started out working as a Dental Nurse and then a Clerical Officer in the MOD, but when my children started school, I decided I wanted to re-train. I have always loved all types of art and craft and am entranced by flowers and particularly greenery, so floristry really appealed to me. I enrolled on a course at Bicton and at the same time was offered part-time work in a local florist. That was the start of my love of floristry, I was well and truly hooked!

How did you make a move into teaching floristry, and what do you enjoy about teaching students?

After four years of floristry training at Bicton College (gaining top student in practical and theory for two years running), I was lucky to be offered the opportunity to teach recreational classes. I undertook my teacher training and ended up teaching the industry qualification and became an NVQ Assessor in the workplace. I feel if you are lucky enough to pursue a career you love and are passionate about it, there is no greater feeling. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to share and pass on my skills and knowledge, and see the pleasure and confidence it brings to students, of all ages and abilities.

You worked at a Teignmouth florist. – what did you do there and why do you think it’s important to work as a commercial florist as well as working as a teacher?

I have over twenty years of experience within a Teignmouth florist, and it has been hugely beneficial keeping up with current trends and dealing with the day to day running of a business. I covered all aspects of the trade to include wedding, funeral and occasion work along with customer care. It is so important to be able to draw on your own experiences and to share examples of workplace scenario’s with students to underpin the learning that takes place in the classroom. It has also been a significant link in helping or guiding students to find work experience and future job opportunities.

What’s the best thing about the world of floristry for you personally?

The pure pleasure it brings. The changing of the seasons, allowing you to work and create with such beautiful materials and the way it links into all aspects of my life and brings joy to others. Also, it is continually evolving, and there is always something new to learn or inspire you.

Your link to the Academy goes back some time. Can you tell us a bit more about that history?

I first met Julie when we were both training to be florists at Bicton College in the early nineties. I met Tina when she joined the teaching team a little later and ended up as Head of Floristry. I have enjoyed many years of true friendship with them both working, learning and training together.

Why have you decided to join the Academy as a teacher, and what are you looking forward to about being part of the Academy team?

Having enjoyed working for Bicton College for many years, I felt ready for a change and a new challenge. I feel particularly honoured to be asked to join the Academy teaching team. I know how dedicated and aspirational both Tina and Julie are, nothing is impossible, the sky’s the limit and also how positive, enthusiastic and supportive the other tutors are too. The Academy offers high-quality teaching and courses that are flexible to suit all needs, and I am so excited to be part of such a talented, inspirational team and to work in such beautiful surroundings. Happy days!