RENOWNED floral artist and gold medal winner at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, David Ryland, has been chosen to create a floral display at a service of thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.

An Eden District Councillor, David, is one of eight in the country, and the only one in the North West, to be asked to put his unique twist on a 10-foot high pedestal arrangement at the special service taking place at Westminster Abbey on March 29.

The Queen will be joined by Charles and Camilla and other senior royals at the special service of thanksgiving.

The 64-year-old, from Armathwaite, said: "It is a huge honour to be chosen to create a floral display for Prince Philip's service of thanksgiving. I am plain old David. Nothing special.

"I enjoy what I do and it's wonderful someone from Cumbria can reach this level."

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous, and I never imagined I would be asked to do something so special," added David.

Flowers for the traditional late winter/early spring design, will come from Covent Garden, but David will be taking foliage from his five-acre garden at his home.

"I know what foliage I am taking and it will be evergreen. The arrangement will be traditional, slim 10-foot high pedestal one, and I will be arranging this the day before the special service."

David is no stranger to receiving the Royal seal of approval. He did a floral demonstration outside Westminster Abbey for the Queen's 90th birthday. "I created nine foot tall candles on the lawn outside opposite the Houses of Parliament."

He has created other displays outside Osborne House in the City of London and a big '15' design in Canterbury Cathedral.

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Chairman of the National Association of Floral Arrangement Society (NAFAS) from 2007 to 2010 David was selected by the board for the commission at the special service for the Duke of Edinburgh and was told the final arrangements just days ago.

"I got told three weeks ago by NAFAS National President and Chairman, that I had been selected for a special occasion. I guessed what it could be, but only got told it was for Prince Philip's service of thanksgiving just days ago."

"I was so excited to receive the news, and to be asked in the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year, and to be the only one in the North West, is very special."

David's special bond with flowers came at an early age having been born into a family who ran a market garden business in Flookburgh which he later took over. "We grew cut flowers and salads etc for a living.

"I went to Cartmel Show with my mother, and I saw someone flower demonstrating, and I thought I could do that. It was my late father who taught me the rudiments of flower arranging.

"He went round the local villages with a Bedford van selling everything we grew in the market garden."

"I moved to Armathwaite 23 years ago having sold the market garden business. But I was lucky to continue with my love of flowers thanks to my beautiful garden that is such a joy to work in."

Since that day David has become well-known as an international floral designer doing demonstrations, not only at 21 major British venues, including in Cumbria, but also in the USA, Barbados, Eire, Spain, India and Japan.

He has a Gold Medal certificate from the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show.

"I also had a commission from Lady Cavendish to create floral displays in the hall and apartments at Holker Hall.

"While I was putting the finishing touches to a design, two men came into the apartment looking for some books. I later discovered I had done floral designs for a visit from Prince Philip."

Not only has David taught his skill with flower arranging to others, but he has won medals in the USA and in Jaipur, India, just before the Covid lockdown in 2020.

"I won a silver medal in India with a design portraying 'Music for the Senses'. My container was made from rope and string."

In his role as a councillor, David helped plan the six-mile memorial walk lined with daffodils to connect three Eden villages and help remember those who were lost to Covid-19.

Tens of thousands of daffodil bulbs were planted between Low Hesket, High Hesket and Armathwaite to mark the first anniversary of the virus. "We did this because we wanted somewhere in the countryside where people could come and reflect on what we have all been through."

"I retired from competitions some time ago, and now grow a lot of flowers and foliage I use in demonstrations.

"I have had a wonderful life with flowers, but my biggest regret is that my mother has not lived to see the things I have done. She would have been so proud of what I have achieved," said David.