FOR his dedication to horticulture, a prestigious award was bestowed on Mike Fitt, patron and president of the Ventnor Botanic Garden Friends' Society.

The annual Harold Hillier Award was presented to Mr Fitt at the society's AGM for his significant contribution to horticulture on the Isle of Wight.

Mr Fitt OBE is the retired director of the Royal Parks.

On retiring to the Island, he set up the Royal Parks Guild, fostering an apprenticeship scheme, initiated a charity to encourage young able-bodied and disabled people in horticulture, and has been involved in innumerable projects such as the In Bloom movement.

He supported the Friends' Society's apprenticeship scheme by inviting apprentices to his Discovery Days, where garden apprentices countrywide are encouraged by meeting in an inspirational place such as RHS Kew, and exploring the wider possibilities of horticulture.

Isle of Wight County Press: The Ventnor Botanic Garden Friends Society awarded the Harold Hillier award to Mike Fitt.

Chris Kidd, VBG's curator, presented the award.

He said: "His involvement with projects, particularly involving young people, is breathtaking. The Discovery Days have had over 600 participants."

Mr Fitt created the VBG garden on Platform 2 of Ryde Pier.

Mr Fitt said he was "honoured and flattered to receive the award from an organisation I so revere" and said he thought there was a great future for the Friends.

During the AGM, John Bagshawe stepped down as chair.

In his final report he described recent difficulties arising from the pandemic and a changed relationship with the CIC.

He was keen to emphasise he would remain as a committee member and a volunteer.

Val Pitts was voted in as the new chair.

VBG's new head gardener, Michelle Cain, thanked everyone who had gone out of their way to make her feel welcome, as she is new to the Island.