Flo­ral de­signer’s un­ex­pected win

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

More than 1000 peo­ple watched Francine Thomas demon­strate her flair for flo­ral de­sign on the world stage in Ire­land but it was not only them she im­pressed.

Thomas was se­lected as the coun­try’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive for a demon­stra­tion at the World As­so­ci­a­tion of Flo­ral Ar­range­ments but, at the same show, man­aged to place third in a com­pe­ti­tion she spon­ta­neously en­tered.

‘‘I never let on to the other demon­stra­tors I was en­ter­ing a com­pe­ti­tion. I just wanted to qui­etly do my thing,’’ she said.

She iron­i­cally en­tered the ‘‘ spon­ta­neous ap­proach’’ de­sign com­pe­ti­tion as a re­lax­ation mea­sure.

The 30 com­peti­tors were given the same ob­jects to cre­ate a unique piece.

Thomas said the cat­e­gory suited her per­fectly.

A win was a bonus and the rosette and Ir­ish li­nen prize will be trea­sured for­ever.

How­ever it was noth­ing com­pared with the ‘‘out the this world’’ ex­pe­ri­ence of rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand.

The 51- year- old spent four months cre­at­ing her 2.5-me­tre koru struc­ture. It sym­bol­ised three of New Zealand’s moun­tains and the sea.

Raised in Toko­roa, the Tau­ranga Flo­ral Art Group mem­ber of­ten runs a les­son for the Toko­roa group.

She trav­els around the coun­try for var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions as well.

But since re­turn­ing from Ire­land the de­mand for her tal­ents has been huge.

‘‘I’ve been get­ting all th­ese emails,’’ she said.

She has even been booked out for an Amer­i­can flower show in 2017.

When it all comes down to it, she said the best thing is to see fa­mil­iar faces along­side her.

‘‘That’s a big thing be­ing a Toko­roa girl at heart,’’ she said.

Four of the Toko­roa mem­bers made the trip as well.

Toko­roa res­i­dent Bev­er­ley Gre­gory en­tered a com­pe­ti­tion but missed out on a win be­cause of a tech­ni­cal­ity.

Her de­sign was a few cen­time­tres too tall but to be half way across the world for her first over­seas com­pe­ti­tion was a win in it­self.

‘‘It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence – ev­ery­thing [the com­pe­ti­tion] was a big sur­prise . . . I had a won­der­ful de­sign with pink roses, lime green car­na­tions and pink calla lilies.’’

New ex­pe­ri­ence: Toko­roa’s Bev­er­ley Gre­gory missed the chance for a plac­ing at the World As­so­ci­a­tion Flo­ral Ar­range­ments but the ex­pe­ri­ence was price­less.

Stand out: Francine Thomas’ third­plac­ing de­sign com­peted against many oth­ers.

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