Suffolk: ‘Dungeons and dragons’ test for Otley College students

A GROUP of landscape and garden design students from University Campus Suffolk Otley have been given the opportunity to make a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style pitch of their creative ideas – in the intimidating surroundings of the Tower of London

The undergraduates were invited to make a presentation as part of their degree course to Tony King, maintenance and facilities manager at Historic Royal Palaces (the independent charity responsible for the Tower of London) and Jay Hancocks and John Vail from the Tower’s gardening contractor, Ground Control.

The panel listened intently to the four students as they presented their ideas and plans for the creation of a Tudor garden, near the entrance to the popular London attraction, and then offered a critique on what they had seen and heard.

The students, all based at Otley College, had been asked to consider a range of different issues in their designs such as costs, colour, maintenance, plants, scent, wildlife and the history of the location. Two designs incorporated the Union Flag within flower beds.

Mr King said: “Nothing like this has happened at the Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress the Tower of London before, and it was very interesting working with UCS Otley and Otley College on this collaborative effort. Overall, I was very impressed with the students. They presented their ideas very professionally.

“I liked different bits from all the designs and it’s possible that some of the ideas could be incorporated to the gardens here,” he added.

Ground Control, which is based in Billericay in Essex, has been working with Otley College for several years and helped organise the project.

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Jay Hancocks of Ground Control said: “The concepts were really interesting and well thought out and I was impressed by the overall standard. It was a pleasure to be a part of this experiment and we are in the early stages of considering other projects that we can work jointly on in the future.”

UCS Otley lecturer Mia Witham added: “I would like to thank the Tower of London and Ground Control for this unique opportunity. This real-life project has given our learners an invaluable experience that will definitely help them when they finish their course.

“The fact that some of the ideas that were discussed could be incorporated into a garden at one of the UK’s most recognisable tourist attractions, is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are incredibly grateful.”