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RHS Malvern Spring Festival, in association with Great Little Breaks, has today unveiled plans for a new Women for Wellbeing forum as it celebrates International Women’s Day.

The forum, which will be chaired by journalist Alys Fowler, will include high-profile members: Barbara Wilkinson, president of the Herb Society; Stella Exley, a floral marquee grower; DJ Jo Whiley; Tamsin Westhorpe, journalist and RHS Show Judge and Hannah Genders, an award-winning garden designer and author.

It is the first time the festival has featured such a forum in a year when wellbeing and mindfulness will be a key inspiration for much of what is happening at the event running from May 9-12.

The line-up of both experts and ambassadors from the world of horticulture will tackle a number of topics including gardening and health, gardening and global sustainability, horticultural influence on lifestyle trends and gardening as a career for women.

Head of Shows Diana Walton said the forum had taken a great deal of commitment and hard work by the Malvern team to pull together such an enviable list of influential women.

“We are very excited to announce this new project on International Women’s Day and feel very privileged to bring together this group of women with the aim of having a positive impact on the future of horticulture in the UK,” she added.

“It is widely accepted that being outdoors and in the garden has a profound effect on people’s mental health for the better.  We also know that it helps to talk and this is what this forum is all about.”

RHS Malvern Spring Festival is seen by many as the official start of spring and attracts more than 100,000 people annually. Visitors flock to see its inspirational show gardens and beautiful Floral Marquee, get top tips from the experts and enjoy the best food and drink that Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire have to offer.

This year it also boasts 10 women among its stellar collection of show garden and Green Living Space designers – many of whom have changed career to retrain as garden designers.

Hannah Genders, who has been awarded a Gold Medal and People’s Choice Award at Malvern, said today gardening was “uniquely hopeful” and she was looking forward to encouraging more women to embrace it to look ahead and plan for the future.

“I’ve always had an interest in the therapeutic aspect of gardens and design, and it’s so much wider than the gardens I’ve created for hospitals and special schools in the last twenty years,” added Hannah who first launched her landscape design business 20 years ago.

“It involves us all, we garden to be in touch with nature, to be physically working outdoors, to care for our environment and we look forward. Gardening is uniquely hopeful, I’m planning and planting now for the future.”

RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place from May 9-12. Advance tickets are now on sale now, with prices starting at just £19 for RHS and Three Counties members, or £21 for the general public. Children under 16 go free.

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