‘She was my best friend’: Woman pays tribute to sister who founded Harold Hill florist shop

Valerie Wallace, who founded Flowergirl in Harold Hill, has died. Picture: Pauline Huckins

Valerie Wallace, who founded Flowergirl in Harold Hill, has died. Picture: Pauline Huckins - Credit: Pauline Huckins

“She was always kind, generous and full of fun.” The sister of a woman who opened a florist in Harold Hill has paid tribute following her death.

Valerie Wallace, who founded Flowergirl, passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s.

The business, now run by Valerie’s son Danny, began at a shop in Petersfield Avenue in 1978 but is now based in Hilldene Avenue.

Her sister Pauline Huckins said: “With no formal training, just natural flair and artistry, she made her mark and the business flourished.”

Valerie would invite children from Brookside Junior School to the shop and talk to them about the flowers and the art of flower arranging.

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Pauline recalled how her sister would look after elderly or vulnerable customers, doing their shopping for them and adding a bunch of flowers to “brighten their day”.

She said: “Valerie was my eldest sister and best friend. We were very close and did everything together.

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“Her aim in life was always to look after people and to please them which she did in abundance.”

The pair spent much of their adult lives doing hobbies together - including horse riding and windsurfing.

Along with their husbands, they drove to shared lodges in Scotland for 30 years and the two sisters would go on skiing trips in the winter.

“During these trips we had unbelievable adventures – one time disrupting the Austrian and German rail network, boarding the wrong train because we were talking and laughing so much,” Pauline said.

“It’s because of all these wonderful memories that when I think of her I can only smile or giggle.”

Valerie handed over the running of the shop to Danny 15 years ago to spend more time with her husband, who had Parkinson’s disease and died two years ago.

The couple moved into an annex attached to Danny’s home in Harold Hill five years ago and Valerie, 77, passed away there surrounded by family on Tuesday, October 20.

Her funeral is on Wednesday and is only being attended by close family and friends due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

But the hearse will stop briefly outside the current Flowergirl shop, in Hilldene Avenue, at 2.20pm for people to pay their respects.

Pauline added: “Please join us in saying a final farewell to Valerie and to give her the send off she truly deserves.

“Please remember to wear a mask and respect social distancing measures.”

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