The dahlia, Westerton Ella Grace, is being sold by Halls of Heddon and was bred by brothers Gordon and Harold Hodgson from Binchester, near Bishop Auckland.
Halls of Heddon is one of the country’s leading dahlia and chrysanthemum nurseries and sends out tens of thousands of plants annually to growers across the UK and beyond.
Each year, Halls introduces a number of new varieties on behalf of amateur breeders, which are available exclusively through the nursery. Those breeders, like Gordon and Harold, are entitled to a royalty payment based on the number of plants sold in the first year of introduction.
Very generously, the brothers requested the money earned through this new dahlia, Westerton Ella Grace, be donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It is the ninth dahlia Gordon and Harold have bred and sold commercially, and it has been the best-selling dahlia variety for Halls this year.
Gordon, who has been breeding dahlias since 2009, says: “I’ve always been interested in the garden and I love the colour and variety of dahlias. They create an oasis of colour.
“Ella Grace is a tall, strong variety. For the exhibitors, it’s the form of this dahlia they like. It’s round and has good petal formation. But it’s gone out to a variety of people and lots have just wanted it for their gardens because they love the colour.
“This is the third time Harold and I have chosen to donate money raised through our flowers to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. We’ve both suffered from cancer so it feels like the right thing to do.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
The work funded directly benefits cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria and plays a significant role in the international fight against the disease.
Lady Elsie was very proud to receive the cheque on behalf of the charity and was thrilled to leave Halls with a large bouquet of Westerton Ella Grace dahlias
Lady Elsie says: “I’ve really enjoyed my visit to Halls. What lovely people and I’m so grateful to everyone involved for raising this money.
“How wonderful to help raise funds for our Foundation with something so beautiful and which gives so much pleasure to gardeners.”
Halls of Heddon was founded in 1921 and remains a family business. Run by a team including husband and wife, Dave and Sue Hall, the nursery sent out more than 70,000 plants this year.
Gordon named Westerton Ella Grace after the Halls’ great niece, something Dave and Sue are very proud of.
Sue says: “We’re so happy that Gordon named this beautiful dahlia after our great niece. I snuck up on him one day when he was up at the nursery and said, if you ever need a new flower name Ella Grace is beautiful. So I think my gentle persuasion may have helped!
“It’s a gorgeous dahlia and has already won some prizes nationally. We’re thrilled with how well it’s sold. I think it’s the combination of a great breeder, flower and cause.”
Working within the NHS, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation does not employ professional fundraisers to proactively raise money and relies completely on third party, volunteer fundraisers and the incredible generosity of the general public.