The red carpet was rolled out for a very special customer at our Ottery St Mary garden centre when Lionel Smith paid a visit to mark his 95th birthday. It was the first time Lionel had left home since lockdown measures were introduced, and he came with wife Barbara to choose his birthday presents.
Otter team members worked hard – within social distancing guidelines – to make his visit memorable. They rolled out the red carpet, with a banner, balloons, cake and birthday card from founders Marilyn and Malcolm White, signed by many team members.
Lionel and Barbara moved to Devon 30 years ago after Lionel retired as a scientist. A very keen gardener, his first question to a new neighbour was “where can I find a good garden centre?” and he was duly directed to Otter. Lionel and Barbara have been loyal customers ever since. Barbara says, “All our garden has come from Otter!”
The garden centre seemed the obvious choice for the big day. Daughter and son-in-law Jenny and Tony Seculer drove from Newbury in Berkshire for a socially distanced shop with them. Lionel brought his shopping list; first up were the basics, like orchid compost and other essentials, but his face lit up with a smile when he saw the plants.
“Lionel has such a love of gardening and passed that to Jenny, who took a degree in horticulture,” explained Tony. “When they got to selecting plants, it was like watching two children in a sweetshop!”
Our Managing Director Jacqui Taylor was on hand to wish Lionel a happy birthday. “We’re delighted that Lionel decided to spend his 95th birthday with us, and we hope he enjoyed his birthday cake! Many of our customers are regulars who have shopped at Otter for many, many years, and we feel like they’re part of our family.”
Happy Birthday Lionel from all the team at Otter!