McQueens Bursary 2017: the Winner Interview

Cast your mind back to the beginning of January, and you may well remember that for the very first time, we launched a unique bursary award to the  McQueens Flower School. It meant that we were offering one free place on our four-week vocational course to an aspiring florist; it was our way of celebrating our 25th anniversary, and helping encourage a new generation of talent.

We were delighted with the response from enthusiastic flower lovers from all over the world, eager to gain that coveted place on our course. We deliberated carefully over the applications – there was a lot at stake, after all! – to find a truly worthy winner, which was a much harder task than we imagined.

But we did choose a winner, and it was Ele Brakels from Buckinghamshire who impressed us with her outstanding application. We were very proud to welcome Ele through the doors of the McQueens Flower School for the first time in April. Here, Ele shares her experience of her time on our vocational course.

“I had started to think about going on a course and followed lots of pages on Instagram to get a good feel for what was available. I looked into all the different courses to see how long they were and what they had to offer:  I had kind of decided to go on the McQueens course because it looked the most varied out of all of them, and obviously it has such a good reputation. Then, I saw on my newsfeed that McQueens were giving away a place. I just knew I had to apply, I had to try and get it! I thought about if for a few days before I started on my application to work out what I wanted to say, and how best to present it. I hand wrote it and created a design background and I did try really hard to make a good impression!

When I actually found out I’d won the bursary, I couldn’t believe it for a while. It took ages to sink in and even when I turned up on the first day I thought someone would say ‘Oh no, not really, it’s just a joke!’.

I loved it from day one. The teachers are so nice, they genuinely want you to learn as much as you can. We have covered so many different aspects of floristry that I hadn’t really thought of. It’s very thorough!

I like the big designs; working on the archway was amazing. I think you get lots of satisfaction when you’ve finished a piece like that. It was so big and pretty and you think oh my God, we actually made that! But then also, surprisingly, I also liked the hand-tied bouquets. Even though they’re a lot smaller, I love the detail that goes into it and it’s nice to know that someone will receive that and love it as much as you have. In terms of techniques, I feel as though I have learned so much that I didn’t think I would. Now I want to focus on getting more experience so one day I might start something on my own…”