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Garden Education Programme

2265. Dr Shengke Zhi

Dr Shengke Zhi, from Greater Manchester, founded the ‘Garden Education Programme’ with ‘RHS Bridgewater Garden’ in 2021, which has seen students from across the North West take part in plant-based education and gardening activities.

Dr Zhi was inspired to set up the programme in response to the pandemic to highlight the importance of gardens and green spaces, particularly for younger people from disadvantaged or ethnic minority backgrounds. Dr Zhi consulted with parents to inform the programme’s structure, having found that a lack of green spaces could lead to mental health issues, increased loneliness, and a decline in physical activity. He raised £20,000 through participating in physical challenges, which enabled the launch of the programme in 2021, in partnership with ‘RHS Bridgewater’ to focus on how biodiversity, horticulture, and sustainability, can help develop environmental awareness and enhance well-being. 

The programme has grown significantly over the last three years, initially reaching 300 students in the first year, and has since engaged over 3000 young people and is now seen as a permanent fixture to support community development and environmental education.

In a personal letter to Shengke, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“Motivated by your belief in the power of nature to improve people’s health and wellbeing, you stepped up, creating the fantastic Garden Education Programme.

“As a result, you have enriched the lives of thousands of young people across the North West, particularly those from disadvantaged or ethnic minority backgrounds. By nurturing a passion for horticulture and sustainability at such a formative age, you are giving them a gift which will last a lifetime.”

Congratulating Shengke on his award, the Rt Hon Sir Graham Brady, Shegnke’s local MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: 

“Dr. Zhi’s contribution in creating the ‘Garden Education Programme’ is remarkable for its profound and lasting impact on young individuals, particularly those from ethnic minority communities. By addressing the immediate needs brought forth by the pandemic and fostering a deeper connection to the environment, Dr. Zhi has not only alleviated current challenges but also laid the groundwork for a healthier, more environmentally conscious generation. His impressive fundraising through physical challenges, alongside his unwavering dedication, innovative mindset, and successful partnership with RHS Bridgewater Garden make him an outstanding recipient of the Points of Light Award.”

Shenge said:

“I am deeply humbled to be the recipient of the UK Prime Minister’s 2265th the Point of Light award. This recognition is incredibly meaningful to me and to everyone involved in the Garden Education Programme at RHS Bridgewater Garden. It is a testament to the collective effort and shared belief in the importance of environmental education and the nurturing role of nature in our lives.

“This award is not just for me but for all those who believed in the vision and contributed to making the Garden Education Programme a reality. It serves as a motivation to continue our work, to reach more young minds, and to further strengthen our community through the power of gardening and environmental awareness.

“Thank you for this tremendous honour and for recognizing the value of connecting people with nature. It inspires us to keep growing and planting seeds of change for a greener, healthier future.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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