Jean is our expert horticulturalist. She trained at Studley College and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She then went on to train as a teacher. She was Head of Horticulture at the West Sussex College of Agricultural for 18 years where she also specialised in teaching horticulture to children and adults with SEND. Jean is a Trustee of the Kew Guild at the Royal Botanic Gardens, judges for South & South East in Bloom and London in Bloom. She says she enjoys spreading the word about gardening, especially sustainable and organic practices. Jean can be heard regularly on the radio across the Southern Counties offering horticultural advice and expertise. We consider ourselves very lucky to have her as our President!
Helen has been involved with L&DCGS for at least 3 decades, assuming many roles to ensure the continuance of the society and the success of Leigh Village Fayre. Moving into the village back in 1974 Helen was quickly seconded onto the Committee as the Treasurer had left at short notice. She feels her only qualification was that she worked in retail. Over the years she has worn many hats and filled many gaps as and when required, including Assistant Show Secretary, Show Secretary, Publicity, Catering - including Tea Lady, Stall Supervisor and any other job that has been directed her way. She believes she has been on the committee for far too many years but along with several other older hands she is passionate about keeping the Society alive.
One slight problem – she says is that she enjoys a garden full of colour and interest but is NOT a gardener ! On Village Show days, she can be found in the Show Secretary's Tent, organising the Judges and Prizes.
Mark is Chair of Leigh & District Cottage Garden Society and has been on the Committee for many, many years and is passionate about the well-being of Leigh's community. He represents the spirit and vision of what our Society aspires to be, and displays the hard work and commitment needed to get there. With 39 years of gardening experience and 21 years as Head Gardener at Little Mynthurst he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the society. Mark has been instrumental in the Allotment Project and Crocus planting. Mark has his own gardening service,
Honorary Secretary & Membership
Adrian moved to Leigh in 2004. He became involved with L&DCGS when he volunteered at a Summer Show. He joined the Committee in 2016 as Honorary Secretary. His responsibilities include Membership, Minutes and Projects. Prior to getting involved, he assumed that to join L&DCGS, he would need to have gardening expertise. However, he now knows that this is not the case. He doesn't pretend to know anything about gardening, but just enjoys being part of the Community. Adrian considers himself to be an a recreational bee-keeper having 3 hives in his garden. He feels keeping bees is helping the environment and we all enjoy eating the honey! He has worked in the gas industry since leaving school and brings a wealth of knowledge around project management, construction and implementation.
Douglas moved to Leigh in 1999 and, with his wife, Sue, immediately engaged in village and community life. Douglas has been a member of L&DCGS since 1999 and on the Committee as Treasurer since 2014. As he says: 'What's the point in living in a village, if you don't get involved?' Indeed, he is very much a firm believer in supporting the local community and 'community spirit'. Having a background in accountancy, (he has worked for KMPG and the WRVS and was the Chief Exec of Greensleeves), he has offered his expertise as an Examiner, scrutinising accounts for local groups including Leigh Lollipops, The Parish Council, among others, over the years and continues to support Leigh Heritage with fundraising and other activities. However, Douglas still finds time to enjoy a round of golf, research the history of Leigh and Leigh Church - and, when he can, lose himself in cricket on the television.
Penny has been involved with L&DCGS for many years and on the Committee since 2014. Since she was a teenager, horses have been her main interest but over the years she has been roped into helping her family with Garden Society events. It was in 2014, when several committee members retired en masse and the future of the Summer Flower Show and Country Fayre was threatened and the viability of the Society in general, that she joined the Committee. She believes that the Society is an integral part of the Village and does not want to see it disappear as many such Societies – both Horticultural and others have – due to a lack of volunteers to serve on the Committee or just to take over the responsibility for one particular task.
Media & Membership
Vicky has enjoyed gardening for most of her life. In her youth she presented a gardening programme for BBC Radio Cleveland. However, her interests led her into teaching and she currently teaches in SW Surrey. Vicky joined the Committee in 2016. She has organised and run the Tea Tent at the Summer Leigh Village Fayre and other events since 2017, taking over from the WI. She is responsible for social media and manages the L&DCGS website and Facebook page. She also supports the administration for Membership and is organising the stalls for the Summer Fayre this year. She has lived in Leigh since 2004 - and in the local area since the 1980s.
Eileen was born in Leigh at St Joan's Farm. Although she moved to Horley when she was 19 years old her heart and soul always remained in Leigh. She returned to live in the village 14 years ago, and is very involved in the local community, including: being a Church Warden, Leigh Heritage, T 4 U, and the recent setting up and running of the Bereavement Cafe in Brockham. For Eileen, the community is everything otherwise, she says, 'you live in isolation and loneliness sets in'. She has had many careers including dog grooming and working as a dental nurse. However, her longest career was working in security at Gatwick for over 25 years. Her gardening strategy is: 'Put it in, pray and hope it survives'. I think it's more than this because her garden is always blooming!
Adria has been keen on gardening since the summer when as a child she managed to grow a sunflower which reached all the way up to her bedroom window. Her front garden is currently being taken over by raised vegetable beds – more every year as she runs out of space to plant all the seedlings she has grown. She shares her back garden with a small flock of bantam chickens who create some destruction in the borders – but hopes that the eating of slug and snail eggs makes up for the damage caused. Adria has lived in Leigh since 2004 and has served on the Parish Council and recently been involved with Leigh’s entry in the ‘Southeast in Bloom’ competition, as well as the annual Leigh Food Festival and Apple Press event every September.
Leigh & District Cottage Garden Society was founded in 1891. Since then, we’ve continued to nurture and support the community of all ages to join us as partners, sponsors, or volunteers. We’d love to see you at one of our events. Members come free to most local events organised by L&DCGS; Non-Members pay a small fee.
Working to support our community
Leigh & District Cottage Garden Society is affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and has links to many local gardening, horticultural and cottage garden societies. We like to support and get involved with all kinds of community events and organisations. In 2018 we planted crocuses on the village greens, in front of the Church and Plough Pub - with the hope of bringing the joy of the change of seasons - Winter to Spring to those driving through and living in the village. We’ve recently managed to secure an allotment and hope to inspire volunteers of a range of ages to get involved in growing plants and vegetables throughout the season. We support The Apple Press and Charity Plant Sale, along with organising Open Garden events. We welcome community members of all ages to join us as sponsors, or volunteers.