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When Bob Mitchell started his job as a gardener in Broomfield Park he was one of twelve people employed by the council to care for the park.  That was in 1984.  32 years later, many of the people whose work keeps the park looking beautiful are volunteers, members of the Friends of Broomfield Park.

chris kaufman presents leaving present to bob mitchellChris Kaufman (left) presents Bob Mitchell with a retirement present on behalf of the Friends of Broomfield ParkNevertheless, there is a big difference between what can be done by volunteers in their spare time and what can be achieved by a professionally trained full-time gardener.  So it was with regret that the Friends of Broomfield Park last week said goodbye to Bob, who has taken retirement.

As well as cutting staff, the council have over the years been reducing expenditure on the park.  But every cloud has a silver lining.  When, in 2013, funds for bedding plants dried up, some of the beds where they would have gone were grassed over and Bob found he had more time to devote to one of the glories of Broomfield Park - the very long herbaceous border that runs alongside one of the park's historic walls.

In recognition of Bob's contribution to Broomfield Park the Friends last week hosted a reception in Broomfield Conservatory, where they presented him with a very special leaving present - a set of handcrafted miniature gardening tools, commissioned by the friends and made by craftsman extraordinaire Ralph Hutchings.

bob mitchells retirement present close upThe contents of the box - a miniature gardening set made by Ralph Hutchings. The base and sides of the wheelbarrow are made from an elm from Broomfield Park. The chassis and handles are made from boxwood grown on the Sandringham estate. The raised bed and watering can use limewood grown in Broomfield Avenue. The tool shafts are made of tulipwood (magnolia) from Broomfield Avenue. The nickel sheet comes from a recycled Rolls Royce radiator

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