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Parks and recreation: Telford gardener Brian not ready to hand in his tools

A legendary Telford gardener who has landscaped most of the town over 50 years has finally retired - only to take a busman's holiday.

Brian Gilbride, 68, has joined the team of volunteers that look after Telford Town Park
Brian Gilbride, 68, has joined the team of volunteers that look after Telford Town Park

Brian Gilbride began working for Telford Development Corporation in 1973 as an assistant gardener and took on a variety of roles. He retired as head gardener for Telford Town Park in 2020.

But after a year off, he has joined the park's voluntary group to help with its upkeep and has also taken on a variety of projects at his home in Coalbrookdale.

The 68-year-old said: “I love gardening, my grandad was a big influence and when I left school it was all I wanted to do.

Brian Gilbride pictured in the 1980s

“Telford has been one big landscaping job for me and I have worked all over the town.

"I remember it when I started - it was nothing like it is today there was very little of Telford as we know it now.

“They were just building Brookside when I started, so anything new since then, I’ve been involved in."

Brian Gilbride

Brian added: "I started the transformation of Telford Town Park and a particular highlight for me is the Chelsea Gardens and Maxell Gardens where I was asked to build a waterfall, which I wanted to do anyway - I was really pleased with the outcome.

“The Friends of Telford Town Park asked me to join them when I retired but I thought I should leave it a year at first. I’m so pleased to join them now, they are a great group and I’ve worked closely with them for years.

"I pick my jobs and I can do what I want really.”

Brian Gilbride with Colin Thompson, vice chair of the Friends of Telford Park

And it isn’t just his love of gardening which Brian has nurtured throughout his years at the town park.

He also met his partner of 10 years, Jackie Jones, there as she works as the duty officer.

When Brian put his dirty gardening gloves on the freshly built visitor centre at the town park, it was Jackie who told him off! They have been inseparable since.

Brian said: “I’ve now got Jackie helping in the garden at home, so not only have I spent my career outside and now some of my retirement time at the town park, we are working on our own garden

“We’ve been building walls and nurturing the plants, Jackie is a willing helper but also likes to leave me to it at times.

“I also plan to spend my retirement travelling. I haven’t been able to do as much as I wanted yet because of Covid but we have been to Italy and Greece.”

The chairman of the friends group, Chris Pettman, said they are delighted to welcome Brian on board.

He said: : “Brian is a person who we have always been pleased to see around the park and watch in action.

“He has worked tirelessly over the years so we were willing to let him have a year off before he joined us.

“His expertise is invaluable and we are delighted he wanted to become a volunteer with us.”

The friends are looking for new volunteers to join their team as well as more supporters to join Telford and Wrekin Community Lottery and fundraising to boost their income for tools and equipment.

For more information visit friendsoftelfordtownpark.org ,or call 01952 382340 and follow their work on Facebook @FOTTP

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