DAVID Ridsdale is not afraid of getting his hands dirty or letting the grass grow beneath his feet.

As nursery manager for Kirklees Council he has helped to plant and grow thousands of plants and shrubs for parks across the area.

And as a founder member of the Huddersfield In Bloom competition he has helped to create the 1,500 hanging baskets and planters which have brightened town centres each summer.

"I've been fortunate in being able to produce plants and flowers that have brightened up the town and helped to make people feel better," said Mr Ridsdale, who has retired after a 45-year career with the old Huddersfield Corporation and Kirklees.

" But I have only achieved all this with a loyal and dedicated staff and the support of my wife and family." he added.

Mr Ridsdale, 60 started work as an apprentice gardener with the corporation in 1958. He worked in Lockwood Cemetery, where he now lives in the Lodge with his wife, Josephine.

During his career he has made bouquets for the Queen and Princess Royal, made floral decorations for civic and private functions and helped local schoolchildren grow 90,000 wild flowers as part of a campaign.

He has also helped to prepare displays for Liverpool's International Gardening Festival and others in Stoke and Gateshead.

Last year, he attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

He is also proud of the authority's record of the Bradley Central Nursery being peat-free for the past six years, after signing the Agenda 21 environmental charter.

Mr Ridsdale, who has been based at Bradley Nursery for 15 years, joked that he would be acting as gardening labourer for his wife now he has retired, as she is solely responsible for their garden at home.

He received three watercolour paintings by local artist Andrew Jenkins from colleagues to mark his retirement.