New life beckons for Shropshire lavender farm couple
It has been 17 years since Robin and Joanna Spencer planted their first trial plot of lavender, and in the time since their farm has become a popular visitor attraction during the summer months.
But now the couple behind Shropshire Lavender are hanging up their secateurs – and they are looking for somebody to continue their legacy.
"We're getting older and it's getting more of a struggle," Robin said.
"The body is rebelling. It's saying you're not 40. The business needs new blood."
The couple are certain that this isn't the end of Shropshire Lavender, which has made a name for itself both for a variety of lavender-based products and a tearoom, but also for informational tours and talks about the process and its history.
The farm in Pickstock, near Newport, has produced countless bunches of lavender since Robin and Joanna started it as a hobby.
They sold it from a shop on the farm, and extended the business year on year.
Now they hope someone will come along to continue the company and build on their legacy.
"We're selling it as three lots," Robin said. "The lavender field, another field and the house and meadow.
"I'd rather sell it to someone who wants to carry it on, and there will be preference to anybody who buys the whole. That would be our ideal, so we can leave a legacy for other people to carry on enjoying."
After announcing the news on their website, the couple have received countless messages of support through social media.
But the news has also driven new customers to the farm, with Sunday being one of their most successful days.
"There is a lot of goodwill towards us," Robin said. "Loads of people have messages us on Facebook and Twitter, saying how sad they are we are leaving.
"We said in our early 70s we wouldn't be able to keep going. We can do it now, but it's getting harder. We thought it's better to leave earlier than later.
"An opportunity came up with a smallholding in Scotland, and instead of four to five years, it suddenly became next year. Then they said they were putting the smallholding up for sale this year. We all of a sudden bit the bullet, did what we needed to do and put the house up for sale. We've had a lot of interest so far."
The couple will leave at the end of August, and the company will continue to trade throughout the next couple of months.
They will hold a number of lavender sales throughout the summer months, and may sell some of the fittings and fixtures if they are not needed by any new owners.
Scotland will offer them a new opportunity, although they will still be focussing on lavender.
"We'll probably buy some land, grow a crop of oil lavender and keep on doing it under a different brand, just selling toiletry products," Robin said.
"It is something to keep us busy, but on a much smaller scale.
"We're also wanting to travel. We're not going to be retiring and going into a two-bed bungalow with one foot in the grave. We've got all sorts of plans – it will be a new life."
The property was put up for sale about a week ago, and there has been a great deal of interest.
"We have years of fabulous memories. We had the medieval fairs and hundreds and hundreds of customers.
"We're still going to be trading until we sell the business. We've had lots of viewings already – it'll definitely sell."
For more information or for any updates visit shropshirelavender.co.uk