Forty Years As A Salford Park Keeper…
Much loved 'parkie' Barry Gordon retires at the end of the month and he will certainly be missed by work-mates and Victoria Park locals including Buddy the dog.
"He's a great bloke, a real gentleman – always has time for a chat" says Paul Devitt as his dog Buddy drags him through the park.
"I bring my grandchildren - the play areas, flowers and trees are excellent and there's no graffiti" comments Malcolm Denison who's used the park for 64 years. "I don't know how he does it, I think it's the best park in Salford."
Well there is graffiti, but Barry's priority is to get rid of it before the public arrive. And, apparently, Beano style parkies no longer chase vandals out of the park waving a big stick.
"I don't hide away, I will always have a chat to anyone who is abusing the park and it's important to have a resident gardener" says Barry "You get to know people and that can prevent young people abusing the park. You also spot graffiti immediately and you can clean it up. If it's left for even a day, it depresses people and it attracts more vandalism."
Without a resident keeper, the park would never have been awarded the prestigious 'green flag' according to Barry. He believes that local people are entitled to decent parks with resident gardeners. "Local people pay for this park – parks are good for our physical and mental health".
Whilst the flowers and trees are great, Barry emphasises the importance of the people who use the park.
"For some people, we might be the only human contact they have in the whole day and it's these wonderful, colourful people of Salford who keep me going. Daffodils alone don't make people happy".
Clearly his workmates will miss his dry humour and vast knowledge accrued after 27 years of teaching horticulture…
"He's taught me loads over the years" says Martin, "not just about plants, but about real ale too."
Everyone's welcome to the tea and cake party in the lodge at Victoria Park on 25th May, 10am to 1pm. Victoria Park, Chorley/Manchester Road, Swinton.
Photos by Suzi Hoffman