GTN October 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

Page 8

Garden Centre Pioneers

he tributes po oured in… Th • Ron Beent, chairman of Bents Garden & Homee: Eddy was an inspiration to me personally and to everyone in the horticultural world. He was also o a wonderful friend to Wendy and myself and our family. We will miss him greatly. We were the best of friends but also always the best of friendly rivals in business. He taught us (eventually) that cooperation, sharing and togetherness would make us all stronger and more competitive and he created a business that is a wonderful example of his philosophy and one that many of us still benchm mark against. He was one of the founding fathers of the GCA, which enabled garden centres in the UK to get together and share th he very best ideas and displays and also worldwide through the IGC CA, of which his family and ours were regular attenders. But he leaves a wonderful family and a great business legacy that I’m m confident that Guy and Peter will carry on with, using their own style to grow the business and have lots of fun along the way. • Warren Haskins, chairman of Haskins Garden Centres: I first met Eddie in the mid 60s when n we both joined a garden centre development group which inclu uded the forefathers of our industry like Leith Hayes and Derek Bunker. We were all working on our young businesses and were stim mulated by what he was doing at Barton Grange. Eddie was full of ideas, ready to help everybody and I have manyy hap ppy memoriies of beingg with him at GCA,, IGCA,, HTA conferences and many oth her places. He contributed so much to our industry for which we must all be grateful. • Sue Allen, GCA past chair: Th hanks to this remarkable man and his fellow pioneers we have the garden centre industry of today. Personally, I have precious memo ories of times shared at industry events, conferences and internattional congresses and learned to appreciate Eddie’s quiet ‘no nonssense’ wisdom but also his delightful sense of humour and infectious laugh. My thoughts are with all the Topping family who continue to ensure Eddie’s legacy is in safe hands. • Ian Boardman, former Gardeen Centre Association chief inspector: I’ve known Eddie a lo ong time. He always came to say Hello whether for training, masterclassses, judging or inspecting. Always pressing for firm but fair ways to o drive standards ever upwards.

• John Ashley, former supplier: Eddie Topping was the garden industry when I joined Fisons in 1972. He was HTA, GCA and his own growing business. Always welcomingg and supportive and helpful to newcomers to this new industrry. Eddie was a people person and it was always a pleasure to be in his company. He will be missed but never forgotten. May he rest in peace. Guy is a chip off the old block. • Brian Gibbons, retired journalist: Wheen I made the transition from Garden News to become founding editor of Garden Trade News in the late 1970s I knew little about the workings of what was about to become a massive trade. I had to rely on the friendly advice and encouragement of those pioneeers who had made it all happen. One of these was jovial Eddie Topping, founder of the Barton Grange empire. Although neveer a comfortable public speaker, he possessed a shrewd mind and d warm personality which enabled him to carry out his many trade offices with great distinction. Eddie touched the lives of so many people in a positive way, including my own. RIP Big Man. • Michael Hayes, Hayes Gardenland: A lovely man and one of my Dad's best pals. Great memories over man ny many years. • Roger Crookes, former GCA inspecto or: He was a garden centre legend, pioneer, motivator and gentleman n. • Pat Flynn, former GTN executive: Eddie was a true gentleman with a cheeky sense of humour who I rem member well from my days at Nurseryman & Garden Centre magazinee and then GTN. • Cliff Gorman, former colleague: Whatt a man - so much energy, drive, determination and vision. It was my privilege to work alongside him for many years and I learnt so much from him. A great family man. • John Richardson, Nurseryman: Eddie and I were friends for many years due to our mutual interest in the HTA and horticulture in general. We shared our experiences in building a successful business, and we compared notes on the increasing responsibilities of our respective sons. Eddie was an industry leader, a motivator and a true friend. It is an honour to have known him.

• Simon Brindle, former colleeague: When I worked at Bolton Barton Grange as a young lad in n my first job, one of my tasks was to help weed the beds with Edd die, that and try to keep a track of all the stock he would just take off sale without writing off! There’s me two weeks into my new job trying to tell the owner: “No, you can’t just take a fork off sale”. I went on to work at the Preston branch for many years, quite offten sharing a chinwag on one of his wanders around the offices.. I even had the pleasure of creating a snapshot in time for the gardeen centre’s 50th anniversary, photographing every member of staff at that time, all packaged up into a coffee table book as a surprise. • Michael Cole, former GCA in nspector: Eddie was a true gentleman and a proud Lancasttrian. He was truly one of the pioneers of the garden centre industry and will be sadly missed byy very many people. • Andy Campbell, Andy Campbell Consulting, forrmer GCA inspector: I only got to know Eddie in recent years,, but it was verry clear from the outset that he was one of life’s true gentlemen and d someone who really understood welcome and hosp pitality. Our industry has lost an inspirational force.

8 October 2021