Future is rosy for school gardens

Photo: David Hurst'Chris Farron, father of Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron, tends the gardens in the grounds of Penwortham Priory Academy.
Photo: David Hurst'Chris Farron, father of Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron, tends the gardens in the grounds of Penwortham Priory Academy.

School gardener Chris Farron has had a blooming marvellous summer - bring more than flowers back to life.

While his son’s career has been blossoming, Chris, dad of Liberal Democrat leader Tim, helped Penwortham Priory Academy win first place in the secondaries section of the Schools Challenge of Penwortham in Bloom.

Chris Farron, father of Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron, created this arch in the gardens in the grounds of Penwortham Priory Academy.

Chris Farron, father of Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron, created this arch in the gardens in the grounds of Penwortham Priory Academy.

But, during his pruning and weeding at the Crow Hills Road school, he uncovered a memorial which he as now brought back to life and he admits that is as rewarding as winning the top prize.

The former building manager with background in engineering has been looking after the gardens at the school for the past three years since retiring.

Chris, who recently moved to Penwortham, got involved with the school accidentally after someone mentioned to him when playing crown green bowls that the school was looking for someone.

He put himself forward for ‘a few hours’ and ever since has been pursuing his passion of gardening at the school.

Green fingered Chris said: “My dad was always a keen gardener and, whenever he had spare time or wanted to relax, you wouldn’t see him as he would be out gardening.

“I inherited the passion from him and I enjoy it. I read books on it, get advice and visit centres. I just love it.

He added; “Someone visited Priory from North West in Bloom recently and talked about entering the competition. Headteacher Matt Eastham said ‘why not?’ and then there was a bit of pressure on me to do a good job!

“There were three areas I was marked on, one was the area by the reception which had been a garden about 20 years ago but hadn’t been maintained and I landscaped it, put in a waterfall and a pond and it’s for the community.

“Then there is the area in what is called the quad which was full of nettles and rubbish.”

it was while digging this patch he uncovered a plaque to a local girl Jenny Crossley saying ‘You’ll never be forgotten.’

Chris addedL “Well she had and I wanted to bring the plaque back to life so I went to Mr Eastham and asked if I could spruce it up and turn it into a memorial garden.

“By sheer coincidence, I was driving from Longton to Penwortham and saw some flowers tied to a lamp post. Being nosey, I went out to read it and they were for Jenny Crossley, who I found out had been hit by a car when she was around 14.

“Her parents had put it up on what would have been her 30th birthday and so we put a note next to it and said we won’t forget her.

Her parents have since been in touch with a super letter. The students treat the garden with the utmost respect and it’s nice to have brought it back to life.

“I think that was the most rewarding although, when I learnt I had won the Penwortham in Bloom challenge, I was also chuffed to bits. It was team work and wasn’t all about me but it was marvellous for everyone involved.

He added: “It makes me smile when I see the students walking down the corridor and bumping into each other now because they are looking at the gardens.”

The areas Chris is working on will be used for educational purposes as well as making Priory look good.

“There is a pond where the students can look at pond life and I will be also putting in a range of soils so science can look at the different bugs which grow under different conditions or flowers and plants which grow. It makes it all more vibrant.”

And while his new career is growing so too is that of South Lakes MP son Tim.

The former South Ribble and Lancashire County councillor was recently elected leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Chris said: “I have three children and they have all done exceeding well in their respective jobs. I am proud of all of them.”