A new horticultural academy has launched in Worcestershire.

TASK Academy has officially launched in Birlingham, near Pershore, with the aim of offering specialist training for people working in horticulture and landscaping.

The academy was founded by Rupert Keys, who has 30 years of experience in the industry.

He said: “At Task we recognise the importance and need for quality training and our future focus is to work with students and employers to address the industry skills gap by providing a wide range of practical landscaping and land-based courses taught by industry experts.”

Mr Keys runs a successful landscaping business, Keyscap Design and Construction, and has built many award-winning gardens at the RHS Chelsea, RHS Malvern, and BBC Gardeners’ World annual shows.

He added: “We are committed to improving the skills of current and future generations and we hope by providing high-quality professional hands-on training courses, students will develop or build on their skills and knowledge to help them further their careers in the landscaping and horticultural industries.

“In addition to our industry courses, our courses designed for the general public, include a range of one-day courses which are perfectly suited to garden enthusiasts and those wanting to acquire new skills and save money in their DIY garden projects.”

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin was among the first to visit the new centre.

During her visit, she was shown a demonstration of a dry stone wall building course and offered her support for the venture.

“Task Academy is a really impressive venture with a clear ambition to help people improve their skills in the horticulture sector,” said Mrs Baldwin.

“Whenever I visit employers, they talk about how difficult it is to recruit people with the right skills and Task Academy has been founded with the intention of helping to fix this problem.

“Some of these skills, like dry stone walling, are in danger of being lost so it is great to see a passionate team working hard to preserve and improve skill levels of people working in horticulture and landscaping.

“We have two dedicated schools teaching horticulture and agricultural skills nearby but this seems like a perfect addition to the mix as we help more people to develop fulfilling careers in the vitally important growing and farming sectors.”