My Festival of Learning award has been a key that has unlocked closed doors

I was made redundant at the end of 2014 and didn’t know what I was going to do next.   I had always liked flowers and with my redundancy money I was able to take time out to study. I chose floristry and nervously enrolled as a new girl at Capel Manor College in Enfield and when I say “new girl”, I was nearly 50!

After my first 6-week course I signed up for another year which quickly turned into a few more. I had caught the floristry bug. My love of floristry comes from the splendid teaching and facilities at Capel Manor, as well as the fantastic classmates I had throughout my time at Capel Manor.

I started The Flower Bank in November 2016 whilst still a student – I had fantastic resources and wonderful tutors to ask for help so by the time I finished I was able to seamlessly move to work full time on the development of The Flower Bank.

I owe The Flower Bank’s existence to Capel Manor – the work experience placements I undertook are a reason for the creation of my social enterprise as I would often talk to my tutor about the shocking amount of waste in the floristry industry and what could be done to counteract it. A module in a Level 3 assignment on marketing led to not only my business card but the name of my business.

2018 has been a wonderful year for me and my social enterprise – I was delighted to be nominated by Capel Manor for a Festival of Learning award and to discover I’d been awarded Highly Commended for Social Impact Award was overwhelming. In June I was invited to the House of Commons to receive my award – it was truly humbling to be in the same room as such exceptional people and to receive public recognition was an honour. The psychological impact of receiving that award cannot be underestimated either for I started to believe in myself, I had purpose and I walked more proudly.

Once the news of my award spread, other organisations wanted to hear my story and in June I was the subject of an item for Radio 4’s You & Yours – I’m constantly amazed by who heard the programme and I have 2 volunteers as a result of that broadcast.  The Festival of Learning award gave me and my social enterprise credibility and the supermarkets from whom I collect the wasted flowers are delighted to be associated with me.

My Festival of Learning award has been a key that has unlocked closed doors and given me the confidence to pursue my dreams.

Ursula Stone, Highly Commended for Social Impact Award 2018

Nominations for Festival of Learning 2019 are now open until 12 February. Further information and guidance can be found here.