He has helped bring a splash of colour to Huddersfield for more than half a century.

But now Kirklees Council gardener, William Dunn, is retiring after an astonishing 52 years in the job.

And it was a job he got by knocking on the door of a gardener’s shed in Greenhead Park.

But he is not giving up his love of plants completely as he will stay involved as a nursery volunteer.

William – Willie to his colleagues – works at the council’s Bradley Nurseries on Leeds Road. In a small ceremony he was thanked by Chief Executive Adrian Lythgo and presented with an engraved tankard.

Mr Lythgo said: “Willie is an inspiring example of public service and commitment. I thank him on behalf of the council and local communities for his hard work and dedication and wish him all the best for a happy retirement.”

Clr Cathy Scott, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for Place said: “I would like to thank William on behalf of all Kirklees councillors – what an excellent achievement.”

Willie, 67, who lives in Rastrick, says that he’ll miss the lads and the banter, but that retirement will give him the freedom to travel. He retires in April but will stay involved with the nursery as a volunteer.

Willie Dunn retires after amazing 52 years as a gardener
Willie Dunn retires after amazing 52 years as a gardener
 

Willie reminisced how he first joined the council in 1962 at the age of 15, by knocking on the door of the parks office in Huddersfield’s Greenhead Park and asking for a job. He said: “Back then it was as easy as asking for a job on the Friday, and starting work on the Monday. Jobs were a plenty in the 60’s and I really wanted to be a gardener rather than work in the mills or a factory.”

Willie started work as a labourer in Ravensknowle Park and studied at Huddersfield Technical College to become a qualified gardener. In the 80s he worked at Lockwood Cemetery before moving to Bradley where he has worked ever since.

Most recently he’s been working three days a week as part of a team of four. Willie said that working in the glasshouse has its ups and downs: “In summer it’s roasting hot, yet in winter the artificial heating makes it the place to be”.

Five years ago, Willie and his wife attended a garden party held by The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Alongside the Mayor of Kirklees and others sharing similar lengths of long service, they enjoyed afternoon tea in the presence of royalty.

Bradley Nurseries is looking for volunteers who have an interest in gardening to help nurture plants over the coming months. Volunteers can spend as much or little time in the nursery Tuesday to Thursday from 9am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 3.30pm. Anyone interested should call 01484 221000 and ask for Bradley Nurseries.

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