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Garden is my office: National Trust veteran gardener to retire after 41 years

One of the National Trust’s longest serving gardeners has reflected on his 41 years on the job ahead of retiring next week, saying: “The garden is my office, really.”

Dave Lock, 64, the head gardener at Chirk Castle in Wrexham, is to retire on August 31 after maintaining and tending to the grounds of the site for the last 41 years.

Mr Lock, who lives in Chirk village, said he will be “taking a step back” from his role after noticing his “joints are protesting a bit at the moment”, but said he will miss the garden, the people, and the comradery of working at the castle.

During his retirement, Mr Lock said he will be volunteering at Chirk Castle for one day a week, as well as spending time with his wife and grandchildren and maintaining his own garden at home.

National Trust long serving gardener retires
Dave Lock said he will miss the garden, the people, and the comradery of working at Chirk Castle (Peter Byrne/PA)

When asked how he felt to be one of the National Trust’s longest serving gardeners, Mr Lock told the PA news agency: “It’s a sense of pride, a sense of achievement.

“Quite privileged, really, it’s a lovely place to work.

“I think sometimes you find your niche and I think I’ve found mine, it’s been a pleasure, it really has.”

When asked his favourite parts of working at Chirk Castle, Mr Lock said he “really likes” the variety of his job.

“Yesterday, I was mowing in the morning, I spent and hour on the computer, and then I was hedge clipping in the afternoon, you get different jobs like that,” he said.

Dave Lock retires
Chirk Castle receives upwards of 170,000 visitors a year (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It varies and that’s been really good.

“Rather than being stuck in an office typing all day, or stood in a factory pressing a button all day, or even stuck inside all day, it’s a very varied job.

“The garden is my office, really.”

Mr Lock said Chirk Castle can receive upwards of 170,000 visitors a year, which he said “adds some pressures” and “the weather can be challenging” as well.

He also said Covid was a “challenging” time throughout his 41 years at the castle because he was on his own for three months during the pandemic, but added: “Otherwise, it’s not really too bad at all.”

Of the other things he has enjoyed about his job, Mr Lock said: “Quite a lot of things.

“Spring, summer, roses in summer, and rhododendrons and azaleas in spring, and the snow drops in winter.

National Trust long serving gardener retires
Dave Lock said he is looking forward to ‘taking it easy’ and spending time with his wife and grandchildren (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It’s working with like-minded people and working with the volunteers as well.

“They all want the best for the property, which is really nice.

“I’ll miss the comradery, and the volunteers and the staff.

“I’ll miss the garden, but you’ve got to retire at some time.”

Mr Lock said he is now looking forward to “taking it easy” and being with his family, adding that he will be spending more time in his garden at home following his retirement.

“We’ve got a garden at home and the wife and I are both very keen,” he said.

“Obviously, working at the castle everyday you don’t feel like doing the garden at home.

“Now, we’ll spend more time in it, so it will be better.”