The Garden Centre Association Trust was formed in 1986 following the untimely deaths of two well respected members of the GCA – Gerry Williams of E.H. Williams and David Dykes of Grosvenor Garden Centre, both based in Cheshire. Originally called the Williams Dykes Memorial Fund, it was renamed as the GCA Trust in 1991.
Over the last 30 years the Trust has been delighted to help many students of horticulture with the costs of their courses and research, whether full or part-time and within all the recognised horticultural colleges of the U.K. Increasingly the Trust has encouraged applications particularly relevant to the Garden Centre Industry and the furtherance of the therapeutic benefits of gardening.
In addition, annual awards and trophies are given at horticultural colleges in recognition of student excellence. Other donations have helped to create gardens for horticultural therapy within hospitals or rehabilitation centres.
The Dick Allen Scholarship Fund was created after the death in 1997 of the then Horticulture Trade Association President, Dick Allen of Millbrook Garden Centre in Sussex. This Trust was also aimed at helping young people within or those new to our industry.
The GCA Trust took over the running of this Trust in 2009 and the two were ultimately amalgamated in 2014 as their aims were so similar. Their combined strength gives the Trust more opportunities to invest in the future of our industry, whether through formal college training or in helping employees of garden centres to develop their skills and knowledge.
Throughout its history it has been a requirement that the Trustees are past Chairmen of the Garden Centre Association which ensures the continued integrity and understanding of the needs of the industry when awarding grants and promoting new initiatives on the raising or spending of funds.