Search

Havering and district allotment society’s chairman steps down after 30 years

14:50 24 March 2014

Maurice Sparkes has been Chairman of the alloment society for 30 years and has decided to step down from his role.

Maurice Sparkes has been Chairman of the alloment society for 30 years and has decided to step down from his role.

Archant

An allotment chairman who was inspired by Britain’s wartime Dig for Victory mantra has stepped down after 30 years to let “new blood” take over. Hayley Anderson talks to the man who’s hanging up his spade for some well-earned R and R.

Maurice being presented with a clock.Maurice being presented with a clock.

Maurice Sparkes, 77, has been at the helm of the Havering and District Allotment Society since 1984.

He took on his first plot in 1959.

The Warren Drive, Elm Park, resident said he grew up surrounded by gardening but it was his memories of the grow-your-own era of the Second World War which sparked a life-long interest in the soil.

“All the way through the war, gardening was vital and a way of life.

“We grew up with allotments as they gave us all of our food so they were obviously very important,” he said.

“I will miss the role as it was a big part of my life but it is now time for someone else’s turn to begin.”

On leaving school, Maurice went to work for an electrical company as a mechanical and maintenance engineer, and his love of gardening took a back seat until his early 20s.

A keen dancer, Maurice went to a ballroom dancing school in Elm Park where he met his future wife, Pat Gartley.

They married in 1959 at St Nicholas Church, St Nicholas Avenue, Elm Park, and soon afterwards Maurice bought an allotment in Park Hill Close, Hornchurch, and gradually climbed his way through the ranks from steward, to secretary and then to chairman.

As part of his role, Maurice met with members of the council for weekly meetings to discuss plot space, what allotment holders could do with their produce and any other future plans, creating a strong tie between the council and the society.

Cabinet member and lover of gardening, Cllr Andrew Curtin, said: “I’ve certainly learned a lot from the way Maurice does things, which I will use in the future.”

But during his time as chairman, Maurice was keen to help raise money for Saint Francis Hospice by setting up a stall and selling some of the produce at the annual Havering Show, raising about £17,000 over the years.

Maurice said: “I know a few good friends that unfortunately had to spend the last of their days there and they made it as nice for them as they could.

“As they rely on donations, they need as much help as they can get.”

Vice-chairman, Len Faram, said: “Maurice has always done this role in a very quiet way, never really making any fuss.

“Twenty years ago, the idea of allotments was that it was for older people but Maurice has helped to knock down those barriers, convincing the older generation to take on younger blood, which I think is fantastic.”

Treasurer for six years, Bob Rand, said: “Maurice is extremely experienced in running our allotments and with his guidance we have had a happy site for 30 years.”

Tom Keeper, of Purbeck Road, Hornchurch, will now be taking over the role as chairman and hopes to do his best “to live up to the high standards that Maurice has set”.

Maurice added: “It’s been so much hassle! But the kind of hassle you enjoy.”

0 comments

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 10:00
HaveringMind volunteers about to set out to deliver posters and leaflets to local GP surgeries

As a report shows that one in three GP appointments are related to mental health, Chloe Farand finds out about how doctors can help refer patients to adequate services

Fri, 16:28
The Houses of Parliament, where long-standing Romford MP John Parker often raised issues affecting his constituents (and, unfortunately for him, was routinely ignored). Picture: Tim Ireland/PA

John Parker was a Labour MP for 48 years. Public school and Oxford educated, Parker was not a typical Labour man. But he spoke up for his constituents, raising local issues in House of Commons questions.

Fri, 14:02
Former dinner lady Carol Strange with kitchen staff at Havering Sixth Form College.

Fond farewells and a few tears were shed as a former dinner lady retired after working almost 40 years at a college.

Fri, 12:35
Rotational nurse Sally Barbrook, Nelft's rotational nurse lead Paul Chesnaye and rotational nurse Kate Channells at Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

Nurses caring for people with mental health problems can now be trained in both mental and physical health simultaneously in a groundbreaking new scheme.

Fri, 11:57
Collier Row's 2015 Christmas event. Picture: Andrew Berwick

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as Collier Row’s annual festivities return to dazzle residents.

Fri, 11:14
Elfie Shelfie getting up to all sorts of antics at the Mercury Mall

From creating popcorn sculptures to impersonating Santa and covering an entire shop in wrapping paper, a naughty elf will be making mischief at a shopping centre in the lead-up to Christmas.

Fri, 07:00
Romford's Marshalls Park School

Parents were invited to an information evening about a school’s plans to convert into an academy.

Thu, 18:25
Police appealing for witnesses after Camden woman killed in coach collision. Picture: Met Police.

Two lanes have been closed and there are 10 miles of queues after a lorry collided with a car near Wennington this afternoon.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

£3,000 goes a long way at Boots

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

Kit yourself out and go Apple mad!

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now