Girl, 10, chosen as winner of BBC Big Bee Garden contest - as Zoe Ball prepares to unveil it in Doncaster

A 10-year-old girl will see her bee friendly garden unveiled in Doncaster tomorrow after being unveiled as the winner of BBC Radio 2’s Big Big Challenge by radio host Zoe Ball.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 9:46 am

Izabella Zogaj from Hampshire was revealed as the winner live on air this morning.

She will see her newly built garden be unveiled at an outside broadcast of The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show coming live from Doncaster tomorrow between 6.30am and 9.30am.

Guests will include Adam Frost, Dr Bee – aka biologist Professor Dave Goulson - as well as music from Ella Henderson.

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Zoe Ball will unveil the winning garden in Doncaster tomorrow.

Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge is a brand new initiative that launched in June this year with the aim of shining a light on the plight of our bee population which is in decline, with some species in danger of extinction in the UK.

Children aged 6-12 years were asked to design a garden that would attract bees and other pollinating insects.

Award-winning gardener and one of the judges of the competition, Adam Frost, adapted Izabella’s design into a plan for the site which is at an NHS Trust in Doncaster that is used by children and young people with mental health needs. It has been built there by a team led by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Zoe said: “Huge congratulations to Izabella – her garden design is simply gorgeous, packed full of beautiful bee-loving plants, a wildlife pond and even a seating area. I can’t wait to see her reaction when she sees her garden in real-life tomorrow morning at a special outside broadcast of The Breakfast Show in Doncaster!”

Izabella said: "I really enjoyed designing the garden for the competition as it combined my love of drawing and nature. I was amazed to hear I was one of the 20 finalists and I am so happy that my design has been chosen to be created. I cannot wait to see it in real life!"

Helen Thomas, Head of Radio 2, said: “Everyone at Radio 2 pulled together to spread the news about our Big Bee Challenge, which attracted thousands of entries. I’m so proud of every child who was inspired to find out about bees, plants and wildlife to design their brilliantly imaginative gardens which were filled to the brim with colourful flowers, water features, bee hotels and so much more. Well done Izabella and the Top 20 finalists, and also to our wonderful judging panel and our partners at The Royal Horticultural Society.”

Another of the Big Bee Challenge competition’s judge’s is television presenter and farmer, Jimmy Doherty, who said: “Judging BBC Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge has been truly wonderful. The imagination and ingenuity of all the applicants has been breath-taking - making judging extremely difficult. This year’s winner encapsulated everything that the judges were looking for, displaying exceptional talents - truly outstanding!”

For her prize – as well as her garden being built - Izabella receives a box of gardening and nature goodies from the RHS, an illustrated and framed version of her garden design and an extra special chat with the stars of one of her favourite TV shows, BBC Two’s Your Garden Made Perfect. The remaining nineteen finalists receive a box of gardening and Radio 2 goodies.

Professor Dave Goulson, Radio 2’s Dr Bee and specialist in bee ecology at the University of Sussex, says: “It is fantastic to think that thousands of children have been busy thinking what they can do to help bees. Many of the entries were wonderfully imaginative, so much so that it was almost impossible to choose just one. The winning entry was beautifully and cleverly planned, providing a welcoming space for both bees and people – I can’t wait to see it brought to life and buzzing with bees!”

Radio 2’s Big Bee Challenge aimed to encourage listeners of all ages to help create a better environment to support bees and other pollinating insects. It has been run in partnership with The Royal Horticultural Society whose garden experts led the team building Izabella’s winning design; and their RHS Campaign for School Gardening team engaged with schools during the summer term to help children discover why bees are important and what they could include in their garden designs to support them.