As awareness of the plight of our planet grows and conversations about mental health continue to gain prominence, I am keen, as the newly appointed chairman of the Garden Centre Association (GCA), to demonstrate the role that our industry can play in protecting wildlife and the environment, as well as bringing people together through gardening to promote better health and wellbeing.

Working with the board of elected directors, I wanted this year’s annual conference to ignite topical conversations and help garden centres ensure that they are tackling the issues of today. Our line-up of speakers, which included Buddhist monk and meditation teacher, Gelong Thubten, Sir Tim Smit KBE, co-founder of the Eden Project, and Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes, gave us so much food for thought, as we gathered as an industry to ensure that we are part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem.

With inspiring speakers and practical solutions concerning climate change, the environment and wellbeing, the conference was a huge success and we have all returned with lots of ideas for 2020 and beyond.