Lydia, who won a Student Scholarship of £1,000, while studying for a BSc Horticulture at Pershore College in Pershore, Worcestershire, shares her news since receiving the scholarship…

“To receive this award for the second year running has meant so very much to me, it has allowed me to take opportunities which I would have normally had to turn down, such as the Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year. I was fortunate enough to win my way through to the final round of the competition, but this was in Dublin, and flights etc had to all be paid for in advance, so having this scholarship greatly helped here.

I also undertook a research trial to investigate the potential effects of ‘Allicin’ (a garlic extract) on soil borne plant pathogens, as part of my degree which I hope will form the basis of my dissertation; all of the materials to conduct the trial, including Allicin which proved most expensive, had to be paid for out of my own pocket, and had I not had the foundation’s support, I would have had to choose a much more basic trial, which I would not have learnt nearly as much from.

lydiamackay1As part of my degree this year we were expected to produce large pieces of high quality design work, which required me to buy many many ‘Letraset Promarker’ pens, alongside other materials, to produce these plans swiftly and to a high standard.

Having completed my second year, I am happy to be able to say that I received an overall A range grade in five modules, making me eligible for the University of Worcester Academic Achievement Award for the second year running!

lydiamackay3I also entered the Young Planting Designer of the Year competition, which is a new initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of plant suitability in a garden, not just choosing what looks pretty as seen in most show gardens, but ensuring the plants chosen would survive there more than a week! I am happy to say that I managed to win through to the final, allowing me to exhibit with a garden at the Tatton Park Flower Show in late July.

For my final year at university I am hoping to take the production pathway, studying plant breeding and gene technology, alongside crop protection (a more in depth look and pests and diseases and IPM) so help me to pursue a career in plant pathology. I am on track so far for a first class degree with honours and very much hope to achieve it by the end of next year. I am hoping to purchase key texts for plant breeding and gene tech this summer to read in preparation for the module.

For my dissertation I am hoping to investigate further the effects of Allicin on plant pathogens since previous studies have shown positive results when Allicin has been used against Phytophthora infestans, Pseudoperonospora cubensis in cucumber, Alternaria spp. in carrot and Phytophthora leaf blight of tomato as it shows great anti-fungal properties. I would begin with a petri dish trial setting pathogen against treatment on agar, to discover if it has an effect, before trialling the treatment in different forms, such as seed coating, soil drench or foliar spray, to determine the most effective of applying the treatment.”