Neill Strain - National Certificate in Floristry
My name is Neill Strain and I am passionate about flowers. I love them in their entire context from grand landscapes to simple bouquets. Because of this passion I was excited to become part of the NCF course at Greenmount College in 2000. The course served a dual purpose; it wetted my appetite for enhancing my knowledge of plant material and what might be created from it and it introduced me to the essential design skills needed to be a professional.
From there, I was keen to explore my creative side which led me to take the Foundation course in Art and Design.
After completing the one year foundation art course, I progressed to study Set design & Special Effects at Wimbledon School of Art. This afforded me the most wonderful opportunity to explore my interest in Film, TV & Theatre. The most exciting opportunity of which was completing my second year work experience at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop during the making of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
Whilst studying at Wimbledon School of Art, I worked in several of London’s leading flower shops to aid me in achieving the Intermediate Certificate of the Society of Floristry in 2004. The ICSF is the second highest floristry qualification in the UK & Ireland and is highly regarded worldwide.
After completing my Set design course, I took some time out from London to study for the renowned Master Diploma in Dutch Floristry in 2006. This course involved five months of intensive study in Holland which has given me a European perspective to my work. This unique educational experience continues to influence my work to this day. Whilst in Holland, I worked with some of the great European ‘masters’ from whom I drew much inspiration.
Soon after returning to London, I achieved the National Diploma of the Society of Floristry. The NDSF is offered by the Society of Floristry and is the highest floristry qualification achievable in the UK & Ireland and is highly regarded world wide.
The NDSF has opened many doors for me, the most exciting of which was an invitation from the Professional Florists Association of New South Wales to demonstrate at their AGM in Sydney in 2007.
Another highlight was competing in the bridal bouquet competition at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show.
In 2008 I realised my dream of opening my first store, ‘Neill Strain Floral Couture’ in London’s upmarket Belgravia. This has been the realisation of a lifelong dream which pulls together all my hard work, training and aspirations of many years.
The shop is a dramatic, stylish and dynamic medium for all things floral and is a true reflection of my background in art, floristry and film.
Because of the shop’s high-end location, it has attracted many high profile clients from Arab Royalty and Russian billionaires to Hollywood celebrities.
With such a bourgeoning clientele and the rapid growth of the business, my feet have hardly touched the ground.
I am delighted to say that I have never looked back on my choice of career and it continues to give me that buzz of excitement I felt on the very first day I entered Greenmount College to begin the road to becoming a highly trained professional.
Diane Annett - National Certificate in Floristry
Diane Annett is from Kilkeel, completed a Business Management Degree, before studying for the NCF full time at Greenmount Campus.
‘My first job was in food retailing but I really wanted to find a career that combined my business experience with creative skills. I enjoy working with the public and the course at Greenmount appealed to me because I could study floristry and get a real feel for the industry through my work placement. ‘
Diane completed the BTEC National Certificate in Floristry in 2005 and now works full time in Fleuriste, Belfast, where she did her industry experience.
Student’s view: Romaine Hodgen
‘My background is in interior design but I grew increasingly interested in floristry and wanted to gain a recognized qualification. The part-time route has allowed me to build my skills base while continuing to work in a retail environment. Competition work has been an important part of building my reputation as a florist and this year I was delighted to be awarded the Gold Medal in the UK final of the Worldskills design competition at the RHS Show Tatton Park.’
Student’s view: Alanna McMeekin
‘After completing a degree in Economics, I enrolled at Greenmount Campus to study on the part-time National Certificate in Floristry programme, whilst playing an active part in running the family floristry business in Banbridge. The course has been inspirational – it has highlighted the new trends in the floristry industry and provided me with the technical expertise required to work in this rapidly changing business.’
Graduate profile: Ian McNeill
‘I became hooked on floristry when I helped out in my mother’s shop over a Christmas holiday period. I completed the National Certificate programme at Greenmount in June 2007 and went on to achieve the prestigious National Diploma of the Society of Floristry in 2008. Attending Greenmount gave me the formal training I needed to make a useful contribution to the business and I developed a great network of industry contacts. I’m now a partner in ‘The Flower Shop’ and thoroughly enjoy the buzz of retail floristry.’