Walled Gardens of Cannington gain important tourism accreditation (March 2010)

Bridgwater College's Walled Gardens of Cannington have been accredited as a ‘quality assured visitor attraction' by VisitEngland, the National Tourist Board.

VisitEngland's report stated that having only been open for six months, The Walled Gardens of Cannington were already a visitor attraction where high standards of information, interpretation and presentation have been achieved. Recommendations made in the report will ensure that standards will continue to improve and the visitor experience becomes even more fulfilling.

"This award reflects the hard work by the grounds staff, students, volunteers and all those associated with The Walled Gardens" says Jane Wagner, Commercial Manager at Bridgwater College. Since the Gardens have been open to the public, we have expanded the plant sales area, of which 80% of the stock is propagated from our own beds. We have also opened a shop, selling a variety of local crafts and garden accessories as well as our new Tea Rooms offering quality coffee and seasonal food."

The VisitEngland VAQAS (Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme) was launched in 2001 as a consumer focused quality assessment service for all types of visitor attractions. It helps to identify strengths of an attraction and highlights development areas based on industry examples. A wide range of attractions of all sizes, both large and small, throughout England have benefited from participation in the scheme.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland, said "This is the first college in England to receive VAQAS accreditation, which is an exciting step for The Walled Gardens of Cannington. It's great to see education flourishing alongside a tourist attraction and I'm sure that visitors as well as students will benefit from this first of its kind development."

The Walled Gardens of Cannington are set within the ancient walls of Cannington Court with classic and contemporary features such as the ‘hot' herbaceous border; the blue garden, sub-tropical walk and a Victorian style fernery, amongst others. The Gardens were officially opened in April 2009 by the HRH the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward and form part of Bridgwater College's Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies offering a broad range of teaching zones.