A HOSPITAL gardener who has helped look after the grounds at North Tyneside General Hospital has hung up his spade to retire.
Colin Ferries turned his passion for wildlife and nature into a career by joining the NHS in April 1995 as a gardener and labourer at Hexham General Hospital.
Seven years later, the 65-year-old moved to North Tyneside General Hospital as the lead groundsman.
During his time with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Colin has helped transform hospital grounds, courtyards and gardens into havens of tranquillity.
And Colin has turned his hobby into a career by spending his own time getting numerous horticultural qualifications from the Royal Horticultural Society and Horticultural Correspondence College, as well as being awarded special prizes for outstanding written work.
In 2008, he was invited to 10 Downing Street to meet then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS.
Colin said: “I feel very lucky that I have been able to turn a hobby and something that I love, into a job and have had the privilege of working with some fantastic people over the years in the NHS.
“I will miss my colleagues and also the patients but am looking forward to spending more time with my family, especially my grandchildren and also doing more work with the National Trust.”
Trust chief executive Jim Mackey said: “I’d like to thank him for all of his hard work over the years and wish him a very happy and healthy retirement.”