South Africa will be represented at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show in London after it was announced that two sponsors had come to the rescue of the SA-Kirstenbosch team.
The Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) and the SA Gold Coin Exchange have offered the team the funding required to participate in this prestigious annual show.
In February it was announced that the team would not be able to attend the prestigious event due to a lack of funding.
But on Thursday the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) confirmed that the team's 35-year run of exhibiting at this top horticultural event would not be broken and that the display would be heading to London to attend the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show this May.
“Our grateful thanks must go to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the SA Gold Coin Exchange who responded so quickly to our media announcement, and the groundswell of public interest,” said Dr Tanya Abrahamse, the CEO of Sanbi.
Abrahamse went on to say that SA's participation in the event was both a major tourist attraction and a way of preserving the country's heritage.
“We are overjoyed that the exhibit will be going ahead," said designer David Davidson, who will be attending his 18th Chelsea exhibit.
"We are looking forward to presenting a winning display once more.”
The Kirstenbosch-SA Chelsea Exhibit has proven its worth over the past 35 years of exhibiting, coming away with 30 gold medals, two silver-gilt medal and three silver medals.
Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensberg, speaking on behalf of provincial government, said that when he heard that Sanbi had not managed to raise the funds to showcase South Africa's biodiversity at the Chelsea Flower Show, he rallied his colleagues to raise the funds between their departments.
"During 2010 there was not a country in the world that was not exposed to the beauty and excellence of South Africa. But we cannot rest on history. We must keep our uniqueness out there in the world’s eye," said Van Rensburg.
Co-sponsor Alan Demby, chairman of the SA Gold Coin Exchange and The Scoin Shop, welcomed the partnership: “As a business operating in both South Africa and the United Kingdom through our unique Scoin shops, sponsoring this exhibit made huge business sense. There are so many synergies. Celebrating our floral heritage has been a major feature of the Protea gold coins since the SA Mint brought out its first coin in the Protea series in 1986.”
Demby promised that should Davidson's team bring back a gold from the Chelsea Flower Show this year, the SA Gold Coin Exchange would present them each with a gold Nelson Mandela medallion.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 23 to 26 May in London.