Our tribute to Richard at his funeral today, 3rd November 2016
Thank you for this opportunity to share some of our thoughts about Richard.
Jess is not able to be with you today and she has asked me to apologise to you all for that and send her love.
Our memories of Richard are a great comfort at the moment and we are so pleased to have them.
Richard joined Cherry Tree in 1997. It wasn’t long before it became clear that he was a man who enjoyed weeding. He weeded tirelessly in all weathers and throughout the year.
Right at the centre of the nursery is a potting station known to us as the middle potting bench. This was Richard’s potting bench. He would eye up whichever batch of plants were going to benefit from his weeding skills and bring them to this bench to work on them. He did this cheerily and with great care for the plants. We think that almost every plant on the nursery will have been moved by Richard at least once. In the winter months, he would often take great pride in feeding the shrubs that had become old and tired. Some of these plants we might have believed were beyond saving, but Richard, embodying everything that Cherry Tree stands for, believed any plant could be saved, just as any person at Cherry Tree could learn that they had a special place and a special job to do.
At Cherry Tree when we print a label for a plant it records the date it is printed on. When we were talking about the many things we remembered about Richard one of our volunteers mentioned that only a few months ago they had seen him working on a batch of plants that were potted fifteen years ago, in 2001. Richard never gave up on any plant on the nursery. We might walk past him working and give our opinion that perhaps that Berberis might be past it. Richard’s reply usually gently mocked our foolishness for not realising that given time and a little more feed, and perhaps a little shaping it would become as good as new.
One of the volunteers said of Richard last week; he loved his plants and he loved his people. And he did. He was a real joy to work with. He would take time to have a conversation with anyone. Many of our younger, shyer volunteers remember Richard with very great affection. For them he was like a friendly father figure. His friendliness meant everyone knew they would find a cheerful face out on the nursery. Every single person who went up the nursery was greeted by Richard, with his smile, and conversation, which might be about plants, but also might be about how Bournemouth were doing in the football, how everyone was performing in the British Superbikes, which walk Dot was doing next or a trad jazz band he’d seen on one of his evenings out.
Richard enjoyed being active. For years he cycled to and from the nursery and people would arrive at the nursery from the bus telling us he was on his way. It seems only the other day he was cycling up the drive determined to carry on coming to Cherry Tree. For us, he will always be at the centre potting station, greeting us all with his smile, and when we have finished rebuilding it we will be naming it Richard’s potting station in his memory.