GLEN Timmins is saying it with flowers.
And his new business, Flowers by Glen, which he launched just a few months ago, could hardly be further removed from his previous job as a prison officer.
Glen spent 19 years in the prison service, working at Doncaster Jail where he was one of 652 prison staff looking after 1,045 inmates.
For the last few years, he specialised in managing prisoners viewed at risk of suicide or self-harming – a task which throws up enormous challenges and can take a huge emotional toll and for which he won an award in 2010 for Prisoner Care.
Says Glen: “I got great satisfaction from my work reducing self-harm and preventing suicide and getting lads to face demands to enable them to lead more fulfilling lives. I worked with a great team of staff. But in the end I decided I had to leave because in the last year I felt completely burnt out.
“One of the important aspects of the job is to have good inter-personal skills. It is about dealing with people in very challenging situations; people who are very emotional , extremely upset, violent and many with past abuse, drug and alcohol issues.
“But sometimes you come to a crossroads and you can carry on doing what you are doing or take a new route.”
Glen’s decision to change career came during a drive home from work – as he was passing Rockwood Garden Centre at Wakefield Road, Grange Moor.
“My grandfather was keenly interested in plants and flowers,” he says. “I have always enjoyed gardening, too.”
Glen decided to take a concession at the garden centre to provide fresh cut flowers and indoor plants. He also supplies outdoor plants, tubs and baskets. Says Glen: “I had often dreamed of doing this kind of thing, but it is a big challenge.
“I have corporate clients and supply local pubs and restaurants with flowers on a weekly basis. I also provide flowers for large venues for events such as Christmas parties and weddings as well as supplying flowers for funerals.”
Glen says: “The weather hasn’t been on my side this summer! But people who visit the garden centre are always pleasantly surprised by what they find. It is a bit of a curiosity shop, there’s quite a lot going on inside.
“It’s a great location because it’s on a busy, main road and with a catchment area covering Huddersfield, Wakefield and Dewsbury. A lot of garden centres are in out of the way places.”
Glen says: “Business is growing and when people come in they are always positive. I have good, regular customers and a number of friends, such as Steve and Brenda Fennell in the next concession doing ‘shabby chic’ furniture who I can call on to help if needed.
“The owners, staff and other concession owners create a warm friendly atmosphere for all.”
A major coup for Glen was to provide floral displays for The National Media Museum in Bradford when an event was held to mark the retirement of James Bond producer Michael Wilson from his role as a chairman of trustees of the museum.
Glen also provided flowers for the Grattans Freeman catalogue 100th birthday which included a fashion show and meal for 180 at the same venue. He now counts museum development executive Sue Clayton as both a customer and a friend who again helps out and has a passion for flowers.
Glen has also hosted flower arranging events for local members of the Women’s Institute.
“White lilies are the best sellers,” he says. “Small arrangements are also popular. I like to advise people in terms of colour and how an arrangement might look. People always want flowers for the kitchen table or in the window at home.”
While autumn oranges and reds are popular at present, Glen expects Christmas to bring increased demand for traditional arrangements, wreaths and seasonal plants, such as poinsettias. Glen will also be involved in the village Christmas Fair, which takes place on November 24 at Grange Moor village hall.
Despite his 19 years in the prison service, retailing is nothing new to Glen.
Born in Hull, he was put up for adoption at a young age and went to live with his adoptive parents in Doncaster when he was just six weeks old.
Growing up, Glen says he always wanted to work in a hospital, but in his teens took two weekend jobs – Saturdays at Halfords and Sundays at a riding stables.
“I got a permanent job with Halfords and moved round quite a bit,” he says. “I left the company as a technical manager and went to work for John Lewis at its new store in Aberdeen as a department manager. I worked in lighting and then kitchenware – and that’s how I got my customer service background.” Glen still calls John Lewis ‘the Rolls Royce of shops’.
“I was in Scotland for seven or eight years before I returned to Yorkshire,” he says. “I was visiting Sheffield when I saw a job advert for a prison officer and applied. When I got the job, a lot of people said I would never stick at it. But prisoners are still customers in a way. As a prison officer, you have to be firm, but fair.”
Now he is relishing his new challenge. “It’s scary leaving a full-time job and a guaranteed monthly income,” he says.
Glen admits to not taking days off at present as he wants to give the business 100%, but his days are varied and not at all monotonous.
The typical day starts with a visit to the market at 5.30am. Glen can also be travelling to set out arrangements at pubs and restaurants.
““I am always available on the telephone and it can be 10pm before I finish for the day,” he says. “It’s not a nine to five job.
“Even when I’m at home I can be dealing with quotes and invoices.
“I also visit people at their homes to discuss arrangements, particularly for things like funerals. It’s the personal touch that counts and being able to empathise with them. I also provide a service to people who may not be able to place fresh flowers on loved ones’ graves.
“I have been to quite a few networking events at places like the John Smith’s Stadium and the Design House in Halifax. Networking is new to me and you have to learn which are the most useful events, because there’s lots of choice when it comes to which ones to attend.”
Glen moved to his home near Castle Hill two years ago and when time allows enjoys macro photography and long walks around the area.
“I like visiting friends whom I hold dear due to having no direct family apart from my partner,” he says. “I also like socialising and meals out.
“And I like houses. I have refurbished houses and rented them out in the past and I like to see what’s going off in terms of decorations and trends.”
Glen lost both his adoptive parents some years ago – and more recently his step-mother. But he recognises the debt he owes them.
“I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for them,” he says.
“It is a big regret to me that they are not here to see what I’ve now achieved, but I know they would have supported me.”