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Cardiff Gardener retires after 51 years tending Cardiff’s green spaces

Mark West, alias ‘Westy'

There was a time when we all hoped to be in a job for life but how many can claim today to have worked for the same employer – doing more or less the same tasks – for the past 50 years?

Step forward Mark West, alias ‘Westy’, who retires this week, 51 years since he began work as an impressionable 15-year-old trainee gardener in Cardiff Council’s Parks department.

Mark said: “I’ve loved this job from the day I started on £7 a week and I still love it just as much now. Even when I’m not working, I’m looking after my garden at home in Thornhill so even when I clock off for the last time, I won’t be a couch potato.”

Things could have been so different, however. After leaving school in Caerphilly, his father found him a job at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Cardiff where he worked, for £18 a week, but young Mark preferred sunflowers to gunpowder and chose to work in the Parks department’s site in Llanishen, just down the road, instead.

He worked his way up to become the head gardener in Bute Park but 25 years ago the role of supervisor became vacant and he was promoted. His remit still included the spectacular green heart of the city, but also took in Gorsedd Gardens, Cathays Park, the Civic Centre and others.

Mark’s manager, Operational Manager for Parks, Sports & Harbour Authority Jon Maidment, said:‘Mark’s enthusiasm and commitment to Cardiff’s parks has not waned over the years. He’s a well-respected, valued member of the team, and a role model and source of inspiration for others. He will be missed, and we wish him all the best for his well-earned retirement.”