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The winners of our nationwide Parsley Box talent search have been revealed.
To celebrate our first ever RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden, we decided to give our customers a chance to appear on our Sanctuary Garden and share their talents at the world renowned show.
We asked you to send in photos and videos of you doing what do you best. We knew our customers were a talented bunch and our judging panel was inundated with entries from across the UK.
From prize picklers to amazing artists, musicians and debonair dancers, it became abundantly clear that Parsley Box customers have a very wide range of terrific talents.
Judging was tough, but two winners stood out from the crowd.
Gerald Stratford, 72, from Chipping Norton impressed the judging panel with his pickling skills and passion for growing big veg.
With 55,500 Instagram followers, he generously shares his rich knowledge built up over a lifetime with his growing online fan base as he makes pickles, chutneys and jams as well as showing off his giant veg.
Gerald spends up to four to five hours of his day responding to the comments and questions he receives on his Instagram page.
And his first book, Big Veg, full of tips and growing tricks was released earlier this month.
He said: “I never expected to win and I am absolutely delighted to be heading to Chelsea to show off my prize pickles and maybe even some cracking big veg too.
“My father encouraged me to copy him and to get stuck in with my own little veg patch and from those tiny seeds he got me to plant, a big passion emerged that has been growing with age.
“Every day after school I would run home and check how my plants had grown and now I am older I have much more time to dedicate to my gardening at a more leisurely pace.
“I am thrilled to be visiting the Parsley Box garden and cannot wait to put my pickles up on display.
“To see something I have created up on the shelves of a Chelsea Flower Show garden will be an amazing thing.”
Inspirational yoga teacher Karen Vatter, 61, from Braintree in Essex, was crowned the second worthy winner after sharing her generation rebel attitude and care for helping others.
She said: “Age is just a number. I definitely do not feel 61 – I’m on my third career as a yoga teacher after working in banking and teaching. I was inspired by my late parents, especially my Dad who believed that you could achieve anything you wanted and I am proof that you can.
“I decided to find out about becoming a yoga teacher with a special interest in older people as they are often forgotten about by the yoga community and lots of people of a certain age feel that they just can’t participate because they can’t stand on their heads.
“I especially wanted to help older people gain the benefits of yoga, which helped me so much after spinal surgery in 2018.
“My epiphany for my practice and teaching yoga was realising that by practising slower yoga poses together with using the breath, I could accomplish more complicated asanas and feel so much better.
“I just had to share how life enhancing this was with other people, so I set up my YoJA yoga business, which is not for profit, and taught my first classes in the summer of 2019. I named it YoJA after my late parents, John and Ann.
“My oldest participant is 93 and I pride myself on inclusion, accessibility and showing people of all ages how to sustain a personal practice, no matter what health issues they might be grappling with.
“I try to show people that no matter how small the movement or incapacitated you are, yoga can offer some relief and peace with whatever life throws at you.”
Karen will be running a mini yoga demonstration during her visit to the show, giving visitors plenty of ideas on how to stay supple at any age.
Co-founder of Parsley Box, Adrienne MacAulay, is delighted to award our two passionate winning customers the chance to visit our garden and the show.
She said: “Our customers have so many wonderful talents. It was really hard to whittle it down to just two worthy winners.
“We’re so excited to be able to share our first Chelsea Sanctuary Garden with them.
“Parsley Box is committed to empowering and championing the over 60s and Gerald and Karen show passion doesn’t have a shelf life – in both cases their enthusiasm and desire to help others has only grown with age.
“We hope they’ll enjoy their moment in the spotlight on our garden. We are delighted to be able to offer them this opportunity.”
The Parsley Box Garden reflects a vibrant place to spend time and shuns outdated stereotypes of ageing.
The contemporary, sleek and elegant space will feature an outdoor kitchen with an uplifting entertaining space that’s sheltered by a pergola and flanked by stunning tiered planters, enabling accessibility for all generations.
Inspired by the philosophy of conserving nature’s bounty through fermentation and preservation, the borders will be brimming with fragrant herbs, edible flowers and perennials.