Caroline Crabb of Bodmin-based shop Fleurtations was crowned British Florist of the Year 2019 – an honour which qualified her to represent the UK in competition with 34 other florists from around the world in the 2020 Europa Cup, to be held in Katowice, Poland. Caroline tells her story …
The 2019 a competition to find the UK’s best florist was entered by more than 300 professional florists around the UK. After two rounds of fierce competition, I travelled to the NEC that June to take part in the final with the top eight florists.
The final was live in front of the crowds at Gardeners World Live after two days of intense competition creating, a tree, a wedding bouquet, a surprise design and a planted design under strict timed conditions. And I won!
This meant I would represent the UK in the Europa Cup in 2020 in Katowice, Poland, competing against 34 other florists from around the world. The Europa cup, organised by Florint, takes place every four years and is a world cup event.
With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition was postponed, and eventually in April this year we learned it would finally go ahead at the end of August.
My original plan was to ship all my props, kit and flowers to Poland, but it transpired that I was going to have to drive there. Bodmin mayor, Councillor Mike Barbery kindly said he would help with the driving Mike and I collected my friend Morgan in Ascot, then drove to Dover to catch the ferry to Dunkirk, and through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and finally to Poland, arriving on Monday night.
The three trolleys of flowers from Holland reached us very late on the Tuesday night, were stored in the hotel overnight and, on the following morning, had to be pushed to the convention centre a mile away!
The real work began on Wednesday, when our day was taken up with unloading vans and meeting the organisers and other competitors followed by 10 hours of work on Thursday to build props, condition flowers and prepare for the next two days.
Friday saw the start of the live competition. We had two tasks to complete in very strict timings, while being watched by five Judges, five of the technical committee and hundreds of spectators. The first task was a table design, in a 2m cube of space, inspired by a song of our choice. I chose ‘ Shivers’ by Ed Sheeran. The second was to depict Dancing in the Rain, demonstrating the beauty and movement of dance in a space 3m x 2m x 2.5m.
Saturday, the final day of the competition, we faced three tasks - two we had planned for and a surprise design, all under the same conditions with judges and spectators. We had to do a hand-tied design, something called Body Decoration and then finally the Surprise Planted Design where all competitors are given the same materials and have to create a design with no preparation.
That evening we gathered for the gala dinner and to watch the final six competitors create another surprise piece on stage. Although I didn’t make it to final six, I can’t tell you how amazing the experience was. I was there representing my country and Cornwall, I made new friends and, most of all, memories I will never forget.