Meet the team

Jo Richards
NDSF, FBFA, CERT Ed

Jo started her floristry career when she was 16 and trained at Bournemouth & Poole College. Within her journey Jo managed a florist in New Milton, was the youngest student to achieve her National Diploma in Floristry (Level 5 Masters equivalent), Jo then returned and became a floristry lecturer at the B&P College where she first trained. Jo became co-ordinator, head of the floristry team & dedicated 10years at the college.

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Jo freelances and works in the floristry industry, demonstrating and sharing her knowledge and skills.

She loves learning new techniques and skills, meeting new florists and contacts and thrives from the atmosphere floral materials give!

Jo has a strong passion for teaching, planting that initial seed for growth and development, and watching her students flourish and achieve their goals.

With strong links within Asia, Jo travels often to deliver workshops for groups and 1-1 sessions for Korean floristry students.

Jo and her team created the Academy of Floristry to fulfil a big niche left in the market by the closure of the floristry department at Bournemouth & Poole College. To build and invent, a unique and bespoke training experience in Floristry and Flower Arranging. We have designed courses both for professional floristry and for those who just want to be inspired and enjoy.

Helen Joyce
HDF, CTTLS

Helen’s teaching journey began when she first joined the floristry team at Bournemouth and Poole College back in 2005. Helen gained many skills on her career path to becoming a lecturer, including Art and Design, Textiles, her Level 2 & level 3 in floristry, which is where she found the ‘floral bug’!.  Then going on to take her professional teacher training qualifications in 2007, and gained both her Pttls and Cttls…

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…, and also her A1 awards in assessing NVQ floristry levels within the industry. Helen has worked alongside Jo and Sara for many years, teaching and training students, also attending top designer workshops, the prestigious RHS Chelsea and Hampton court flower shows, where she achieved many medals with the  team.

Helen currently still works in the floristry industry for a very reputable company as one of their lead designers in all aspects of Wedding work, which is her specialist subject.

Floristry is Helen’s passion and we are delighted to have her on our team at the Academy.  Here she can take up once more her second passion, of teaching and learning, to share her wealth of knowledge with the students, and help them achieve their goals.

Melanie Smith
MDPF, CERT Ed

Melanie started her adventure into the flower world in 2008, after changing, from a long career in Financial Services. She took herself off to college to learn about floristry and the new career path she wanted to take. she was the oldest one on the course! but that didn’t deter her. Mel has always loved flowers and wanted to develop this knowledge further, she completed her level 2 and 3 in Floristry at Eastleigh college…

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…and then decided to further those skills with taking the Level 4 Higher Diploma at the multi award winning Academy of Floristry.

Mel is currently studying for her level 5 Masters at the Academy, where she also teaches the Level 2 in Floristry Diploma groups.

She started her teaching career in 2011, as a teaching assistant at Eastleigh College and later to  full time in 2012.

Mel graduated from Portsmouth University in 2014 after gaining her Certificate in Education.

The next path to unfold led Mel to being involved with NAFAS in 2013, with passing her Area demonstrators test in May 2015.  She now demonstrates to flower clubs across the South.

Being a Freelancer for wedding specialists and at a florist shop in Reading, takes up most of her free time when she’s not teaching!

Her life is pretty much flower crazy which she loves!

Attending floral workshops, demonstrations, festivals and flowers shows and a quick trip to Holland or Belgium each year is a must. She likes to keep up to date with all the latest trends especially the European ones!!

Sara-Marie Andrews
ICSF, MBFA, CERT Ed

Born and brought up on my parents’ nursery, I was immersed in horticulture and nature from the start! As I grew older, I worked on flower show exhibits and became experienced in the propagation and growing of many types of plants; and breeding new cultivars of dahlias.  My first job away from the nursery introduced me to the world of floristry through the eyes of one of the greatest influences possible, Betty Jones.

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Soon after, I was awarded the Society of Floristry Rose Bowl for the highest combined marks in the Preliminary Examination, as it was then known.  I carried on with both floristry and horticulture, gaining qualifications in both and continuing with competitive work in both disciplines; especially trade exhibits, regularly gaining gold medals throughout the southern half of England and being an active member of the Horticultural Exhibitors’ Association for many years.

During this time, I also became involved in teaching floristry and running a floristry apprenticeship scheme for over twenty years.  I have always appreciated the importance of continuous development and have grasped every possible opportunity to learn from a wide range of designers, realising that floristry is a profession in which you are always training and experimenting; and was delighted to be awarded the European Floristry School Award in 1995.

Recently, I have been more involved in teaching theory and business studies for florists but have also been experimenting with floristry related to textures and forms in nature; and was delighted to reach the final of the Chelsea Florist of the Year competition, 2011.  It is my aim to pass on my passion for floristry, horticulture and nature as others have motivated me throughout my life.