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Meet our apprentice gardener, Daniel

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“I spotted the opportunity to become an apprentice gardener at York Minster and I jumped at the chance”

Daniel, our apprentice gardener

Our gardeners maintain and care for seven hectares of land across the York Minster Precinct. This includes our apprentice gardener, Daniel Magill.

From greenkeeper to gardener, we find out more about how Daniel became an apprentice at the Minster and what he gets up to in his role.

Tell us a little bit about your career background and how you got into gardening?

“Having always enjoyed visual things, my first job was as a printer, and then I became a picture framer. From an early age I had it in my head that I wanted to be a photographer and I had the passion and drive to be one, but as I got older, my passions changed so when the pandemic hit, I felt that it was time for a change in direction. As a keen cyclist, I have always loved being outdoors, and have done gardening volunteering jobs in the past and work experience as a greenkeeper, so I thought to myself – why not give something like that a go?

“I became a greenkeeper which I did for two years at a couple of different golf courses. Being outside and looking after large, green spaces was great, but I was eager to be involved in something that had a real impact on its people and community.”

How did you end up becoming an apprentice gardener at the Minster?

“I spotted the opportunity to become an apprentice gardener at York Minster and I jumped at the chance. I have fond memories of spending time with friends and family here; watching life go by and coming back during different seasons to see the change, so I thought to be a part of making the Minster and its Precinct a beautiful and wonderful place to spend time at, would be so rewarding to me.

“I actually remember walking on the city walls many months back, looking down and thinking, that’s a cracking load of compost bins there, I’d love to turn those! And here I am, tending those very same compost bins! Sounds odd, but it’s just something I find incredibly satisfying.”

Can you tell us about your role and what you get up to?

“My role is extremely varied. As gardeners at the Minster, we do anything relating to the grounds, so our days involve mowing, weeding, raking, cleaning, developing, and planting. Our aim is to get the precinct looking as perfect as we can, we want everyone who visits to enjoy their time here.

“Although I’m used to tending to large areas thanks to being a greenkeeper, what many people don’t realise is how substantial the land around York Minster and its Precinct is. From Dean’s Park and College Green, The Deanery, as well as the Precinct land around the city walls and the old school grounds – there’s a lot to tend to!”

What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?

“I actually really enjoy clearing the banks. Our main customers are essentially our visitors, and the first thing a lot of people see when walking on the walls are the banks. They can look messy if they become overgrown, so we keep them nice and tidy and make the area look purposeful in a natural way. I find it very rewarding keeping this area looking wonderful, and hearing passers-by compliment the area’s beauty.”

Planting wildflowers

What projects are you most looking forward to in the future?

“I haven’t been in the role for long, but I’m excited to be involved with planting new flowers and trees and watching them come to life and being part of that.

“I think there’s real potential across the whole Precinct to make our spaces even more valuable to the York community and our visitors. For instance, our sensory garden is lovely in terms of the plants in it, but I’d like to try and make this even more dynamic through introducing even more welcoming aromas and winding paths, so that guests can fully immerse themselves in nature.”

“Everyone is super friendly, and always there to offer advice and support. I feel like I’m learning a lot from the team, and every day is great fun.”

What’s your favourite thing about working at the Minster?

“The people – I couldn’t fault anyone! Everyone is super friendly, and always there to offer advice and support. I feel like I’m learning a lot from the team, and every day is great fun.”

How does your apprenticeship work at the Minster?

“It’s a two-year apprenticeship, but I’m hoping to complete it within a year, with my Level 2 in Greenkeeping helping here, and after that I’ll be a fully qualified gardener. I’m at college one day a week, and I really enjoy the mixture of theory and learning, and then applying it to my work at the Minster.”

What would your advice be to someone wanting to become an apprentice at the Minster?

“Firstly, have a passion for it! The Minster is a wonderful, unique place, and you need to be very devoted and can’t have a ‘that’ll do’ attitude. I’d also say, it’s never too late. I’m coming into this role slightly later in my career, but I couldn’t be happier that I made that move.”

Find out more about other members of the team here.

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