Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Herb Farm site manager leaves after 30 years

A MAN has left a garden centre in Sonning Common where he worked for almost 30 years.

A MAN has left a garden centre in Sonning Common where he worked for almost 30 years.

Craig Woods, 45, from Southcote, near Reading, had been employed at the Herb Farm, off Peppard Road, since he was 15.

About 40 people attended a party at the business to mark his departure and he was presented with gifts.

The guests, who were served drinks, sandwiches and cakes, included Mr Woods’s wife Donna, 42, and his parents Michael and Lynn, of Newfield Road, Sonning  Common.

The couple are moving to Avoch, near Inverness, along with Mrs Woods’s parents Donald and Lorraine Holding.

Mr Woods said: “We’ve got a little fisherman’s cottage.”

He joined the Herb Farm as a part-time trainee when it was opened by Richard Scott in 1986 and he was still a student at Chiltern Edge School. He went full time after leaving school a year later.

Mr Woods said: “It was advertised in the paper that Richard was opening a new business so I went down to get some weekend and evening work.

“I felt at home with what I was doing and it was what I wanted to do. In those days that was growing things in the nursery but as the years went on I would work in the shop.

“I was involved in all parts of the site and day-to-day things like deliveries and checking stock.”

In the late Eighties Mr Woods helped Mr Scott relocate an old  timber-framed granary from Theale to the Herb Farm.

He recalled: “We rebuilt the original timber frame — it was a bit like Meccano. The parts that were rotting were replaced. It’s still there now.”

Mr Woods left the business in early 2002 to work in car hire but returned as site manager nine months later, a position he retained until his departure. He was responsible for a team of about 10 people.

He said: “There had been a few changes while I was away so I came back in more of a managerial position.

“I had more responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business and sorting out work for other people. I still did a bit of nursery work as that’s what I love but that was a treat rather than day-to-day.”

Regular customers were also at Mr Woods’s leaving party and many of them thanked him for his help over the years and wrote him cards of appreciation.

Mr Woods said: “I’ve known a lot of them since I was 15 when I joined the team and I will miss them.

“I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done and it’s something I put myself into physically and emotionally.

“I love the retail environment as I got to be out in the air, although in recent years there has been more office work.

“It’s work but the team and the customers made it enjoyable.

“Donna was involved with the business for a good few years doing clerical work so she’s part of the team as well.

“I wish them all the best and I hope it goes well for all of them at the Herb Farm.”

Mr Woods has no immediate plans for work when the couple move but will enjoy walking their three Hungarian pulis, Tilly, Lily and Rosie, in the Scottish countryside.

He said: “We’re going to go and settle in and have a couple of months of breathing space to relax and see what’s there.

“There are some rather nice garden centres up there but we will have to see.”

Mr Scott said he was sorry to see Mr Woods leave.

He said: “I’m very grateful to Craig for his long-term commitment to the business. It was fantastic to have someone with us for so long.”

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