What does it take to become a NAFAS Demonstrator, Steely strength, good sense of humour?
We thought we had better investigate! So we invited our very own Sussex Demonstrator along to the warehouse for a chat to find out more…….
Stephen for anyone who knows him is a larger than life character, full of enthusiasm and cheeky wit. When he walks into a room you soon know he has arrived. Let me give you an example:
When Stephen arrived at Workbox this morning to give us the lowdown on his year ahead for this article he came in carrying a four foot long ‘leaf’ from the Agava Americana plant. He had just been to the flower market first thing that morning and bought three of these spiky leaves – like you do – and thought we would be interested in seeing this exotic piece of ‘natural sculpture’ he would being using in his next demo. Quite an entrance by any ones standards!
We asked Stephens to give us his life history up until now and believe you me he did! Here’s the bits we could share with you:
At the tender age of twenty four Stephen made the move across the water from Dublin to Crawley in search of work. Crawley wasn’t all he had hoped it would be so he took refuge in sunny Brighton.
His first career opportunity was non other than MFI, here he trained in kitchen design. By sheer chance and poor organisation on MFI’s behalf Stephen was called in to design some emergency sets to showcase the latest Kitchens for an important client. This was where it all changed! Like a bolt of lightning his creative juices got the better of him. Rising to the challenge using his natural flare and eye for colour he completely strayed from the standard remit and revamped the whole design. The powers that be were so impressed; they used his ideas across all the MFI stores. Not content with designing kitchens Stephen moved on to bigger and better things – property development. Yes we’ve all seen it on tv with Sarah Beany and her band of not so happy and ever so stressed wanna be developers. But clearly Stephen has the stomach for it and still does it to this day with a smile and calm persona. What’s his secret to successful developing – Simple ‘Be very organised!’.
So with a hectic schedule developing how did he get involved in NAFAS?
The answer – by accident! One Christmas he was surfing the web on the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) website and fell upon the NAFAS site. They were looking for candidates to take part in a Flower Arranging Competition. Egged on by his mates he decided to enter and would you know it, he got a ‘Highly Commended’. So from here on it just kind of snowballed!
And what a snowball! From that day Stephen was encouraged to become a demonstrator, which meant undergoing training and exams. Which of course he successfully passed, and we can verify he is now an amazing demonstrator that can certainly hold an audience. We first met him when he was demonstrating at a Christmas show in Henfield. The theme of the event was “Tarts What Do”. Stephen took the lead role as ‘Tanya Hide’ in a bright orange wig and size 9 stiletto heels. The audience loved the whole show and a year later customers are still reminiscing about it.
And just when you thought there was no more this man could do – he went on to win Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show last year something he would like to do again this year.
So what does the year ahead hold? Here are a few dates in his diary:
May 24Th : RHS Chelsea Flower Show
June 9th : South of England Show
June 15th : WAFA –Boston USA (World Association of Flower Arrangers)
Sussex Flower Festival at Nymans – 50th Anniversary Year
September 22nd NAFAS National Show
Various local demonstrations and area shows.
I can see already 2011 is going to be an extremely busy year for Stephen! He is particularly looking forward to flying out to America for the WAFA show. This is an event which is held every three years and will be quite a feat of engineering. Stephen will have to organise all the flowers, plants, props and resources etc via the internet to be delivered direct to the show. His stand will be 8 feet tall by 5 feet wide and the theme is “Reef”. He has already begun designing the piece in his garage and is in the process of creating a mock up. It’s obvious that Stephen loves a challenge, in fact I get the impression he thrives on it.
Well we wish him every success this year and thank him for his time talking to us. Stephen is undoubtedly a really top bloke!