On July 29, 1963, Elvis Presley topped the charts with Devil in Disguise, The Great Escape was on at the cinema, Cyril Evan Molyneux was the Mayor of Preston... and it was Alan Rampling’s first day working as a gardener in Preston.
Now, 65-year-old Alan is celebrating 50 years in the job and has been recognised with a service award for his work to bring colour to the city’s parks and streets.
Starting out at 15, Alan was a young gardener in Miller Park greenhouses and has since worked on the Japanese Garden in Avenham Park and, for fifteen years, at the former Ashton Park Nursery greenhouses.
He has spent the rest of his career at the Miller Park Nursery, where he has been head gardener for more than 30 years.
He said: “I am privileged to have worked at Preston Council for 50 years. I have been involved in so many great projects and worked with some amazing people to date.”
Over the years, Alan has led the nursery team and has been the creative and design force behind the city’s award winning floral displays – which have won six Royal Horticultural Society awards, including four gold medals and one Best in Show.
He has worked on floats and displays for the Preston Guilds, one being the Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit characters. His floral depiction got the nod of approval from the man himself.
Preston Mayor Coun Veronica Afrin said: “I am honoured to be awarding Alan Rampling for his fantastic achievements. For the major displays, Alan has spent many hours of his own time in research and design preparation, in order to create something very special for the city.
“He has served this council and the people of our city with distinction and this award is to mark 50 years outstanding service to the city of Preston.”
Among the many features and displays Alan and his team have created are the Tom Finney Tribute flower bed, the Preston Victoria Cross flower beds and the Diamond Jubilee Crown last year.
Alan and his team have created floral decorations and displays for hundreds of civic events including mayoral balls and displays for UCLan and Lancashire Constabulary.
Most of the features and props are handmade including the superb Wallace and Gromit characters.
Many items are re-used and recycled. A model car dates back more than 30 years and went on to be Tyson’s Taxi for a mayoral ball display. Last year, it was driven by Gromit on the Guild Float, and is still going strong.