IF YOU’VE ever admired the floral displays at the gateways to Huddersfield – chances are you have Sandy Munro to thank.
The Rawthorpe 65-year-old retired this week after half a century of brightening up the district with his gardening skills.
His career took him from learning the horticultural ropes as a teenager in the former Huddersfield Borough Council’s crematoria to landscaping the approaches into the town, which still welcome visitors and commuters today.
Joining the then Huddersfield authority in January 1960, the 15-year-old apprentice found himself in a big workforce which could barely be sustained today.
The father-of-two said: “There were 106 gardeners and the council wasn’t very big then.
“It didn’t include areas like the Colne Valley or Kirkburton and now there are 160 in the whole of Kirklees.
“At first I was an apprentice in the grounds of Huddersfield Crematorium.
“We grew the decorations for the chapel and the bedding plants and I ended up as the greenhouse propagator and foreman in charge of the grounds by about 1974.
“Kirklees came about in 1974 and after two years at Oldgate House I went to the cemeteries at Batley and Dewsbury where I was in charge of 12 men.”
The arrival of compulsory competitive tendering in the 80s saw Sandy become a departmental officer for Kirklees. A series of big contracts were renegotiated and it was as assistant manager that he became involved in bulb planting at the town’s crucial gateways.
He said: “We wanted to make the entrances to Kirklees more attractive.
“First was the Civic Centre in Huddersfield seven years ago and we just carried on, to Leeds Road, Fixby, Batley and Dewsbury, all the major entry points.”
After a life spent in the outdoors Sandy says he would happily carry on working, but changes are afoot in the council and the time has come to retire.
Another restructure has seen his work come under the remit of Streetscene but his retirement is set to be a busy one.
He said: “I’ve got holidays coming and grandchildren too, I’ve no time to spare.
“I liked landscaping but my favourite was propagation, I love the greenhouse and there’s nothing like a spring garden.
“If Kirklees Council hadn’t come about I would still be in a greenhouse working with the seeds.”
Another of Sandy’s passions is about to come to the fore, as he swaps the foxgloves for the foxtrot to indulge his love of dancing.
He said: “I ballroom dance with my partner Wendy. We go to St Paul’s in Huddersfield, Prestwich, Pudsey and even on some cruises.
“I certainly won’t be bored.”