International Women's Day | Caroline Beacall - Head Gardener - Shugborough Estate
For International Women's Day we asked questions to a lot of women who work in the groundskeeping or gardening industry about their work. This time it's Caroline Beacall, Head Gardener at Shugborough Estate.
How long have you been working in this industry?
I started in 2004 as a ‘Careership’ apprentice working for the National Trust. I secured jobs as a Gardener and then Senior Gardener working for the charity at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire.
In total I’ve been working in the industry for 16 years, with the last three at Shugborough Estate where I am the Head Gardener.
What does the average day look like for you?
Very varied! I am responsible for the gardens at National Trust Shugborough Estate and this covers presentation, how it is enjoyed, who helps maintain it, by whom and when. I am also part of the property and strategic team at Shugborough and can be found leading on new projects or attending meetings discussing the future and the vision of Shugborough.
We are supported by over 120 volunteers and all our many visitors. I’m passionate around providing training and developing the team and this year we recruited our first Apprentice. I work with 3 Gardeners to design and deliver the improvements of the garden. One of the best and most exciting parts is buying plants, bulbs, machinery and materials and then using it! It’s the promise of newness and change that is inspiring and gets us motivated.
Generally, my average day is being with wonderful people in a truly special place making memories for everyone and looking after it for the future!
What would you say is the biggest challenge working in this industry/Have you faced any challenges being a female in a male dominated environment?
No, I’ve personally not faced any challenges but that isn’t to say that I’ve not observed them and that they don’t exist… which they do. But if the place of work has a strong set of values and an inclusive environment then this will not happen.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
My previous career was as a retail manager for Gap but I wanted a career that was in gardening and that gave job satisfaction. I found a way in via the National Trust’s trainee scheme called Careership – which is like an apprenticeship, with an aim to create Head Gardeners of the future.
I love working for an organisation with such strong values, that is a charity and that has as its strapline “for everyone, for ever”. The training, learning and networking opportunities are incredible, and it is an ever-changing delight to be in the position of Head Gardener at Shugborough Estate, National Trust.
What advice would you give to women wanting to join the industry?
The horticultural industry has such a depth to it that there will be something out there for you that is perfect for you. Find an opportunity and go for it – you never know where it will take you
Finally, what is the best part about working in this industry?
• Being creative and innovative
• Taking people on a journey and getting them excited!
• Looking after and developing people and special places
• Providing a place where people can socialise, relax and enjoy themselves