Media Release: Castle of Mey launches apprenticeship programme for young graduates

Alan Titchmarsh and Andrew Glaister

THE Trustees of The Queen Mother’s much-loved home in Caithness have launched an apprentice programme for graduates, enabling them to start their first salaried employment, at the Goring Hotel on 19th May.

The programme will provide the first step on the employment ladder for recently qualified young people and it will supply continued tuition under the guidance of experts in their profession, including well-known gardener and broadcaster, Alan Titchmarsh, who has agreed to lend his name and support.

This programme has already captured the hearts and minds of benefactors of The Castle and Gardens of Mey in supporting the ‘living’ legacy of The Queen Mother at Friends and Patrons level.

To date, £40,000 has been raised for the cause.

The Castle of Mey Apprentice Programme is aimed at graduates between the ages of 18 and 30.

During their 12-month salaried position, they will continue to develop their skills working within the team, harnessing modern and heritage working practices to gain invaluable experience for their futures.

Initially, a garden apprentice and marketing and communications apprentice will be funded.

For the garden apprentice, work experience will include visits to other gardens so their experience is broadened and will include potential visits to other royal gardens.

Similar opportunities will be created for the marketing and communications apprentice so that they gain a broad learning experience in the tourism sector.

The apprentices will be selected by a panel in accordance with pre-agreed criteria and in conjunction with educational establishments in Scotland.

The programme was launched by Alan Titchmarsh at The Goring Hotel on Tuesday 19th May.

Alan Titchmarsh has agreed to host the garden apprentice for a day at his own home to explain the development of his own garden over the years.

Ashe Windham the chair of The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust acknowledged the generous support from HE Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz and many other benefactors as well as the gift of five Wattle-Sussex trugs which were donated to the castle gardens.

The trugs were gratefully accepted by Shirley Farquhar, The Trust’s administrator and head gardener, Andrew Glaister.

Alan Titchmarsh says: “I was an apprentice myself and have constantly battled to achieve more recognition of apprenticeships as a valid and essential part of the nation’s workforce.

“For too long a university degree has been seen as the ultimate goal; valid and revered as it is; apprenticeships, too, are vital to create a versatile and functioning work force.

“Practical skills and knowledge should NEVER be underestimated or undervalued.

“We need to change opinions and perceptions in order to make sure that apprenticeships are truly appreciated. I am delighted to promote a cause in which I deeply believe.”

He continues: “This inspired apprentice programme to support graduates entering horticulture at a young age will ensure their talent will be nurtured and developed as they gain experience in working in a variety of climates and soils at a number of the most iconic gardens in the UK.”

Ashe Windham, in his speech at the launch, said: “This year, we are looking to raise up to £45,000 to pay for a garden apprentice and a communications and marketing apprentice.

“The Queen Mother loved the gardens at The Castle of Mey which she brought back from a veritable jungle in the mid-1950’s, and HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay continues with that passion during his regular visits.

“This ‘living’ legacy to support young gardeners under the watchful eye of our head gardener will allow the apprentice to gain invaluable experience and a first job in one of the best gardens in the north of Scotland.”


For more information please contact Martin Hunt on 0131 661 5212 or at

Notes for Editors

Members of the media who wish to interview appropriate panel members are asked to put their request in writing to

About the Castle of Mey

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother first saw what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952, falling for its isolated charm and hearing it was to be abandoned, she decided to save it.

Having acquired the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, The Queen Mother renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens that now surround it.

The Castle of Mey was the property of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1952 until 1996, when Her Majesty generously gifted it with an endowment to the Trust.

The Castle, built between 1566 and 1572, is situated on the north coast of Caithness, in the parish of Canisbay, about 15 miles east of Thurso and six miles west of John O’Groats.

The towers and corbelled turrets are typical of that period, particularly the chequered character of the corbelling of the smaller turrets.

The castle is acknowledged to be one of the finest surviving examples of a Z-plan castle.

For more information please visit or contact 01847 851473.

Picture: Andrew Glaister, Castle of Mey head gardener, and Alan Titchmarsh at The Goring Hotel.

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