Gardener James triumphs over adversity to win top award

James Callicott, Buckinghamshire Adult Learner of the Year 2014
James Callicott, Buckinghamshire Adult Learner of the Year 2014

A dyslexic gardener who was the youngest person to compete in the Hampton Court Flower Show has won the Adult Learner of the Year Award.

James Callicott, 20, scooped the Buckinghamshire Adult Learning’s Adult Learner of the Year award at a ceremony held on Thursday, June 19, at Judges Lodgings in Aylesbury.

Despite being severely dyslexic, James runs his own garden design business – James Callicott Garden Design – and attends two Royal Horticultural Society courses every week through Buckinghamshire Adult Learning.

He has won medals for his designs in RHS gardening shows, was the youngest designer to take part in the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2010 and is also a horticultural columnist for a local paper.

James, of Great Missenden, says: “Being dyslexic does not help when it comes to learning or education - however the support that I’ve received from Buckinghamshire Adult Learning and my tutor Lindsay Engers has been tremendous.

“I have not followed the normal route in life, and have struggled like many other people. I’ve now been given the chance to complete my course, which has changed my future prospects - and for that I am exceptionally grateful.”

More than 70 guests attended the ceremony, including Cllr Mike Appleyard – cabinet member for skills and learning at Bucks County Council, who said: “This is a great celebration of the work of our adult learning team.

“Learner of the Year James Callicott is a superb example of how, with the right support, people can overcome learning difficulties and go on to achieve impressive things with their lives.”

Other winners on the night also included Classroom Supporter of the Year Jane Pearce and Tutor of the Year, won jointly by Mireille Lavollee and Joan Welch.

Also recognised were City & Guilds Medal for Excellence Winners Jane Robinson and Jill Harden, and South East Region Learning Life Skills Apprentice Award winner Chris Nicholls.

Adult Learner’s Week is a national celebration of the benefits of adult learning. It inspires thousands of people each year to discover how learning can change their lives.

For more information on Buckinghamshire Adult Learning courses, visit or call 01296 382403.