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Ilkley Flower Show to pay tribute to teacher
The 60th anniversary Ilkley Flower and Vegetable Show this weekend will pay special tribute to a teacher who inspired generations of gardeners – including celebrity Alan Titchmarsh.
The show – taking place at the Clarke Foley Centre on Saturday – is to honour All Saints school teacher, Harry Rhodes, with a new trophy for young entrants, following an appeal via this newspaper for more information on him.
Mr Rhodes, who died in 1992, is credited in Mr Titchmarsh’s memoirs with selling the later Gardener’s World presenter his very first plant, a potted cactus, at a school fair. Mr Titchmarsh, who was born and brought up in Ilkley, went on to get his first job as an apprentice gardener with Ilkley Urban District Council in 1964.
Mr Rhodes also taught the son of flower show secretary, Heather Chapman MBE, who set about finding more out about this local figure.
Following a recent appeal in this newspaper, friends, family and colleagues of Mr Rhodes have been in touch with Mrs Chapman and shared their anecdotes about his life and work in the town.
Mr Rhodes taught at All Saints School from around the 1950s, later becoming deputy head at Ilkley Middle School. He had three greenhouses, which he allowed schoolchildren to visit to see his cactus plants.
One former colleague said: “The children thought Harry was marvellous. He was always very generous in giving his time to others.”
Children often used to bring things into school and ask for his advice.
A resident of Menston who saw the recent appeal for information contacted Mrs Chapman with a photograph showing Mr Rhodes, possibly on VE or VJ Day in 1945, when his friends and neighbours had a bonfire to celebrate.
The flower show, which features 15 classes for under-16s, and more than 100 classes in total, will be open for public viewing from 2pm, with awards being presented at 3.45pm. The deadline for entries closed this week. Novice classes can be made up until 10.30am on Saturday. These include a flower arrangement in a wine glass, a hat decorated with flowers and a jam jar of fresh herbs.
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