RHS Chelsea: Day in the Life of Shows & Exhibition Manager

RHS Chelsea: Day in the Life of Shows & Exhibition Manager

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Day in the Life of Breeze House’s Shows & Exhibition Manager, Kathy Atkinson

Kathy has worked for Breeze House for over ten years. As Shows & Exhibition Manager she enjoys meeting new and interesting people; travelling around the country to some of the most beautiful gardens and stately homes and being outdoors in the summer at high profile events like RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We accompany her on a day in the life of Breeze House’s Show Manager to find out what press day at the most prestigious flower show is like.





Kathy wakes up bright and early. She chooses her outfit for the first day of the world’s most prestigious horticultural event and dons her trademark flower corsage in preparation for Press Day. After reading the newspaper and enjoying a morning brew, she takes a short walk from the hotel to the main entrance at The Royal Hospital Chelsea.


Kathy flashes her pass at security, brushes past police dogs and enters the Show. The Breeze House stand is located on Royal Hospital Way. She wanders past the stalls flanking Eastern Avenue and sees exhibitors busying themselves in preparation for the day ahead.


The Breeze House stand is opposite the D-Day 75 Garden and the Royal Hospital. Camera crews and cranes are setting up and presenters are rehearsing as Kathy briefs the team. Last minute preparations consist of little bits of housekeeping  – putting the finishing touches to table displays and titivating floral arrangements.


The Show is officially open to the press, exclusive VIPs and celebrities. Kathy poses for photographs with Chelsea Pensioners and watches the D-Day Darlings singing to the veterans in the garden designed by Chorley designer John Everiss honouring the D-Day landings veterans.


Julian Clary visits the stand with his mother. Over her time at Breeze House Kathy has met many celebrities and international VIPs and helped them to find their perfect Breeze House. Among the celebrities she’s met and sold Breeze Houses to are Ronnie Wood, Cherie Blair and Emma Bunton. At this year’s event Kathy spots Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, Anton Du Beke, David Seaman, Ulrika Johnson and Brendan Cole.


Kathy breaks for lunch overlooking one of her favourite gardens and takes an opportunity to explore the Show.

Afternoon and evening



Back at the stand, Kathy anticipates the RHS judges doing their rounds of the trade stands. With so many magnificent show gardens and trade stands this year, the judges have their work cut out choosing the best of the best.


Security visibly steps up as stewards, police and the police dogs prepare for the private view and the Queen’s visit – Kathy again ensures the stand is looking at its very best. This year’s tickets for the show have been selling out fast due to what’s been called the “Kate effect”. The Duchess of Cambridge’s involvement with the RHS Back to Nature Show Garden has been widely publicised and her visit is eagerly anticipated along with the Queen. Only exhibitors with the highest security clearance are permitted to stay in the grounds during the Royal visit.


The Royal party pass the stand en route to the D-Day Memorial Gardens. Kate is looking magnificent in a floral blue and white dress. The Queen is wearing a striking acid lemon outfit. In previous years Prince Philip has stopped by the stand and spoken to Kathy and his presence is missed this year.


Kathy has a much sought after ticket for the Charity Gala Preview so it’s a quick change before attending this exclusive event for a luxurious evening of hospitality along with a select number of garden designers, dignitaries and exhibitors.

7.00pm Charity Gala Preview

The champagne flows and canapés are served. It’s time for Kathy to network, let her hair down and boogie to the live band after a busy day. The Fortnum & Mason goodie bags are a nice surprise!


Kathy walks back to the hotel admiring the Chelsea in Bloom floral displays on the way. She enjoys a night cap in the hotel bar along with the rest of the Breeze House team, before phoning her family back home and turning in while catching up on the Chelsea Flower Show TV coverage.

Breeze House handcraft a range of exclusive garden buildings to suit all tastes, gardens and lifestyles, with bespoke options available.

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Find out more about 20th annual stand at Chelsea by reading our Biophilic by Design post.