Double win for Woburn Abbey Gardens

Eighteen outstanding parks, gardens and tree teams from across the UK scooped awards at the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards 2017 presentation held at the Woburn Sculpture Gallery on 29th June.

Estates gardens manager for the Bedford Estates, Martin Towsey, won the prestigious Horticulture Week Custodian Award and his 15-strong gardens team also picked up the award for Best Gardens or Arboretum Team.

Martin and his team are responsible for all the horticultural areas of the estate including the Abbey Gardens, Safari Park (enclosures and foot safari), The Woburn Hotel, The Woburn Village, Woburn Golf Club Amenity Areas, London Estates and the Duke and Duchess' private residence.


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Martin Towsey commented: "I can’t believe it, I didn’t even know I was in for the award." He said he has absolutely loved his 33-year career so far, which he started aged 15 as an apprentice for Nottingham City Council.

"Horticulture has given me the ability to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve never had a day when I’ve thought ‘I don’t want to go to work.

Martin said the Custodian Awards were a wonderful celebration of horticultural talent right across the sectors. "It’s something we have been missing in the industry."

The Duchess of Bedford, who also attended the ceremony, said Martin’s win "was totally well-deserved".

"Martin is fantastic to work with, very good at any project you give him." she said. "He leads a very good team and they have very good team work. We are very proud of him."

Horticulture Week, the gardening industries’ most widely-read trade journal, assembled an independent judging team that considered the following criteria in order to reach its decisions:

  • Best Gardens or Arboretum Team: ‘Awarded to the best example of a gardens or arboretum team which through clear objectives across all areas of its work, good communication, quality management and excellent technical practice, has succeeded in achieving improved outcomes for the sites in its care, the users of those sites and other stakeholders.’
  • The Horticulture Week Custodian Award: ‘Awarded to an individual who has made the most exceptional contribution to the management of parks, grounds, gardens or tree schemes.’
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