David Gee was the lifeblood of East Harling in Norfolk, serving as a parish council clerk for more than 40 years. His widow, Patricia, says it’s ‘absolutely brilliant’ that a new community garden has just been dedicated to his memory
Patricia Gee knew that there was a plaque dedicated to the memory of her late husband David Gee in the new community garden in East Harling, but thought it was just the council ‘being polite’. It was only later that she realised that the whole of the community garden in the village where they had set up home for the best part of 50 years had been dedicated to the memory of the long-serving parish clerk.
‘I had no idea they were dedicating it to David until a fortnight ago,’ says Patricia. ‘I think it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m amazed at what they’ve done there because it was such a mess – just a piece of shrub with a falling down garage and nettles up to your elbows.’
What would her husband, a keen gardener, have made of it? ‘He would’ve been thrilled. He would’ve been in the thick of it,’ says Patricia. ‘He was a staunch Harling person – we are both Norfolk people anyway.’
Married in 1963, the couple moved to Harling in 1970. The 79-year-old continues: ‘He was part of the scenery. He was the parish clerk for around 40 years, so knew everything about Harling. He was a tireless worker.’
During their time in Harling, they moved from a bungalow to a house in the village, very near to where the community garden is now.
In the months following his cancer diagnosis, Patricia knew that, when the time came, she wouldn’t want to stay in the home. Her husband passed away in 2017 and Patricia moved to Norwich a year or so later.
For the official opening of the garden this week, Patricia and all three of their daughters (coming from Norwich, Cambridge and Northampton) returned to Harling. ‘It was lovely that we could all be together.’ She also has nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren (with another on the way).
Cllr Roy Brame, Chairman of Breckland Council, commented at the opening ceremony: ‘David Gee was well loved and respected within the community, and I know he was heavily involved in all aspects of village community life. This garden will be an endearing and enduring legacy to his memory and his contribution to the Harling area and it’s residents.’
Rev Caryll Brown led prayers and a dedication service, acknowledging the wonderful work David Gee had conducted on behalf of residents, and his passion for helping others.
The garden has been developed by six hardworking local volunteers and funded by local contributions. It also includes a seed exchange box for keen gardeners to share fruit and vegetable seeds.
A large crowd of residents, including local Councillors, Patricia and daughters Caroline, Susan and Ruth, attended the heartfelt dedication ceremony. East Harling Parish Council are extremely proud of the amazing garden transformation situated in the heart of the community, and the wonderful volunteers who helped the area bloom for residents.
The new community garden is situated just off Market Street, next to Pepper’s Tea Room and a community play space.
Patricia and her youngest daughter Ruth often come back to Harling, for a cup of tea at Pepper’s, and she plans to visit the garden regularly. ‘I have to keep an eye on it’, she says, ‘and I still have a lot of friends in Harling.’
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Featured image: Patricia Gee (far right); and daughters (left to right), Caroline, Susan and Ruth