22 September 2011
A Trust gardener who has worked at our St Bernard’s site in Southall for the past 50 years is finally hanging up his spade.
Graham Slipper started work as a junior gardener in September 1961 when he was just 15-years-old.
Graham said: “I didn’t get on well at school but I knew I loved being outdoors. I started out in the greenhouses, nurturing new flowers and shrubs. The head gardener at the time was a hard-nosed chap and it was a tough first few years, but I stuck it out and here I am 50 years on.”
Many of those early plants are now mature features in the gardens and landscaping surrounding the Victorian hospital buildings. Since his early days as a gardener in training, Graham has seen staff come and go, witnessed Ealing Hospital being built, and even appeared in the Ealing Gazette in 1997 for his award-winning flowers and shrubs, by which time he had been promoted to Head Gardener.
Manager Amilcar Simoes said: “Graham is popular with staff and patients alike, often stopping to chat or share some words of wisdom. He’s been a fixture on these grounds for as long as anyone can remember, and whatever the weather he’s out there caring for plants, raking leaves and clearing snow and ice in the winter. Graham’s green fingers have helped to create an environment in which our patients can recuperate and get better.”
Graham added: “I wouldn’t have it any other way – I’m not one of those office types who can sit behind a desk. Even though the winters can be hard, you get the reward of being outdoors in the spring and summer, watching everything change. I’ve had lots of laughs over the years – I remember one incident when I accidentally drove my truck into a door and I got a good telling off from the matron.”
Despite retiring, Graham still plans to work a few hours at the Trust every week . And his spotless sickness record is proof, if it were needed, that fresh air really is good for you!