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Support would be blooming marvellous

VISIT: Lucille ‘Blossom’ Levene (left) with Lorna Golding at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2008

A GROUP of Jamaican flower enthusiasts who have won 14 awards at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, are hoping kind-hearted donors will help them raise the money they need to go next year.

In 16 years, the 103 members of the Kingston-based Jamaican Horticultural Society have won 11 Silver Gilt, which is a few points below the gold, and three Silver awards at the world’s greatest flower show.

But the group, which has members aged 45 to 65, needs to raise £20,000 to participate in the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show.

“The team that goes to Chelsea are volunteers, so we depend on fundraising and corporate sponsorship, which is getting very difficult since the recession,” explained Lucille Levene, the group’s exhibit coordinator.

The recession cost the team much needed funding in 2010 and 2011, so they could not participate in the Chelsea Flower Show.

But they are hoping to come back to the show next year, especially as Jamaica celebrates its 50th year of independence in 2012.

“It’s a pleasure to see the expression on the faces of the visitors, especially the Jamaicans living there (in the UK),” said Levene, who, along with the other members, has exhibited in Canada and at World Association of Flower Arrangers shows in South Africa, Japan, Ireland and Scotland.

Levene added: “It is a pleasure to show off our floral heritage and to promote Jamaica as a destination.”

Friends, family members and black UK business people such as Paks wholesale owner Peter Mudahy are already rallying to help, but have called on more businesses and the public for assistance.

Grace Foods is also supporting an upcoming fundraising event, and British Airways has offered to discount the cost of air freighting the group’s materials.

Mudahy, a relative of one member, said: “We are soliciting corporate sponsorship. We are planning on doing a fundraising event when the team arrive in Jamaica in May next year, where we can auction off some of their floral arrangements.”

He added: “We are talking to some corporations about sponsoring badges and logos on their uniform – that’s the kind of stuff we are looking at.”

Levene was at Jamaica's booth in 2008, when then Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, his wife Lorna, and the Queen visited it.

“It would be good if the air fares could be paid," she said.

* To help the Jamaican Horticultural Society email jhschelseagroup@gmail.com

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