Devoted husband launches gardening competition on Northampton estate in memory of beloved wife

Beryl was a keen gardener and her husband wanted to do something positive in her name

By Carly Odell
Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 12:12 pm
Frances and Mick Boddington were joint winners of the back garden competition. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.
Frances and Mick Boddington were joint winners of the back garden competition. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

A grieving husband has launched a gardening competition in memory of his cherished wife who was a keen gardener.

Beryl Drone, who followed Northampton Town and enjoyed many holidays in the UK and abroad, as well as gardening, passed away in July after suffering from dementia.

After her death, Beryl’s husband, Richard, wanted to do something positive in her name that also gets him out and about in the community.

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One of the winners of the back garden competition. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

Walking around the Obelisk Rise estate, 75-year-old Richard noticed that a huge number of houses have beautiful front gardens, so decided to shortlist some of the gardens and eventually crown a winner.

As more people found out about the competition and the neighbourhood police representative got involved, it was suggested that a back garden competition could also be run by residents submitting pictures via Facebook.

Richard said: “With Beryl, everywhere we went it was always ‘gardens, gardens, gardens’.

“Now I’m trying hard to keep ours going.

Joint winners Anne and James Moore with Richard Drone (right). Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“We used to go to The George Inn in Great Oxendon a lot and I’ve seen how much they have done with their garden in three months so that inspired the competition too.

“I need to have a focus. I can’t just drift through the rest of my life and this gets me out to see people.”

The couple had recently renewed their marriage vows after being married for 35 years, which Richard describes as the ‘best years of his life’.

Since Beryl’s death, Richards says people on the estate have been kind and were also really supportive of the competition.

One of the beautiful features of Anne and James' garden. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

To make the competition official, the retired teacher even got trophies engraved and managed to secure a bottle of champagne from Waitrose for the front garden champions and a voucher for The George in Inn in Great Oxendon for the back garden winners.

Richard headed out to present the awards yesterday (August 24) to the worthy winners after a judging process was completed.

As the back garden competition was too fierce, two couples - Frances and Mick Boddington and Anne and James Moore - shared the title.

Frances said: “It’s all for such a lovely cause for such a lovely lady and it’s a lovely community thing to do.

Chris Westley and Alan and Carol Garrett with their front garden winners trophy. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds.

“Beryl would have loved it and this sort of thing really brings the community together.”

Anne added: “It’s such a lovely idea and we’ve had great weather for the garden this year, as well as a lot of time.

“We worked together in the garden and we have loads of time to do it during lockdown. I really feel sorry for people who haven’t got any outdoor space during this time.”

The winners of the front garden are next door neighbours Chris Westley and Alan and Carol Garrett, who have created a joint wonder.

The trio are looking forward to enjoying their champagne in their garden, along with Alan and Carol’s dog, Molly.

For this year, the Beryl Drone best garden competition is complete, however Richard is hoping to make the competition an annual event for the whole community to get involved in and is even hoping to nominate the estate for the National Gardens Scheme in 2021.

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