Holbeach man’s half centenary with the same horticultural firm

Brian Bailey relaxing in his garden at home in Holbeach. SG190816-100TW
Brian Bailey relaxing in his garden at home in Holbeach. SG190816-100TW
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It’s 50 years since the boss of a horticultural firm asked Brian Bailey if he wanted a job.

The then 19-year-old said “yes” and Brian’s still there, although Hargreaves Plants has changed hands and slipped over the Lincolnshire border into Norfolk.

He officially retired at 65 but carried on working at the firm and commutes three days a week from his home in Holbeach to Hillington, near King’s Lynn.

Brian can thank his firm for many things, not least supplying husbands for two of his three daughters, Anna who married employee Dave Maddison and Sarah who married employee John Reddin.

Brian and wife Claire (62) also have five grandchildren.

Brian, who was born in Tydd Gote, and Claire, who came from Long Sutton, met at a youth club in Long Sutton and have been married for 42 years.

After attending Long Sutton’s Peele School, Brian started his working life on fruit stalls at local markets until he was approached with a job offer by the founder of the family run horticultural firm, John Hargreaves.

“My first job for him was probably something like weeding the strawberries,” said Brian. “We also used to dig up strawberry plants, put them in bundles and sell them.”

Hargreaves Plants was originally based at Brook House, Gedney Dyke, and Brian thinks he may have been there for 25-30 years until the business moved to Long Sutton before its more recent switch to Norfolk.

He’s very much enjoyed his work there and intends to keep going as long as he can.

“It’s been very good,” said Brian. “The old boss treated me like a son and we did almost everything together.”

These days Brian is an all-rounder. “They call me the odd job man,” he said. “I do tractor work, a bit of spraying, all bits and pieces.”