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Have you lived here all your life?

Have you lived here all your life?

A question I once heard asked of a Norfolk resident, to which he replied quite rightly with a cheeky smile, 'No not yet I haint!' I have often considered this when people, knowing that I have been in my job for a very long time, inevitably have asked me if I have worked at Sandringham all my life. 'Not quite yet' is my reply.

Having recently received a number of kind congratulations on achieving over 40 years serving the Royal Family at Sandringham, I feel now might be a good time to post an update on my plans for the future as I say farewell to friends and colleagues and prepare to move on to pastures new.

Despite always trying to take a pride in my work and having become increasingly attached to the plants and trees which have formed my workplace, I have attempted to maintain the opinion that the garden is not my own but that of my employer and therefore whilst having a responsibility and a part to play in the direction and implementation, I have always been prepared to surrender the casting vote to the owner not only because this is what I believe is right, but with realistic awareness that at some point my part in its evolution has to end and in the hope that when that happens I can be prepared.

It has been a huge honour over the last 26 years as Head Gardener, to manage the team maintaining and developing the Sandringham Gardens which were created by Edward VII and over several generations have been modified by each monarch to suit the requirement of the time. Designers and landscapers such as William Broderic Thomas, James Pulham and Sir Jeffrey Jellicoe have also played a part in creating a very special place, enjoyed not only by its residents and staff but also thousands of visitors each year. Though not easy to leave this all behind, particularly as I write this with the garden clothed in the most abundant blossoms of spring, I am glad to have the opportunity to do this when the garden and myself are in good health and both still have the potential to explore new boundaries. Working part time over the last 12 months I have had the opportunity to spend time travelling Europe and beyond visiting some amazing natural landscapes and great gardens. In my new role as gardens project manager I have had the chance to spend time establishing a Horticultural Consultancy offering a peripatetic Head Gardener service, whilst still being part of the new beginnings as our recently crowned king begins his reign.

With both of my daughters grown up and enjoying successful careers themselves, my wife Hannah and I have decided to relocate to the East Midlands where I can be better placed to focus on my new business and Hannah will continue to work as a freelance educational coordinator.

I would like to thank all of those who have supported me with both their services and friendship during my time at Sandringham. I have many fond memories and look forward to following the future projects from afar with interest.

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