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Otley garden centre staff's surprise party to mark Stephen’s 80th birthday
Staff at an Otley garden centre have thrown a surprise 80th birthday party for the man who has spent the past five decades turning it into a major business.
Employees at Stephen H Smith’s, off Pool Road, were determined to give owner Stephen Smith a day to remember on Friday.
Co-ordinated by secretary, Sandra Jones, they laid on a buffet, special cake and gifts for Mr Smith, and also treated him to a mass rendition of Happy Birthday.
Mrs Jones said: “All of the staff got together for this to throw a big party as a surprise and it worked a treat – the look on his face was priceless.
“He was surprised but also really pleased. We had a buffet with wine, and had a really good 80th birthday cake made. Everyone had a great time.
“We also had a collection and bought him some book tokens, because he’s a big reader, and a bottle of gin.”
Mr Smith bought the garden centre in December, 1966 and – joined by his son Christopher since 1985 – has seen the business flourish and expand to now include three other centres, in Harden, Scunthorpe and Bolton.
Mrs Jones said: “Mr Smith is still active in the business, and comes in on the mornings and attends all the manage-ment meetings, so he does very well.
“He has built the business up from the nursery he took over to become one of Otley’s main employers and to have three other garden centres, too, so he’s done a grand job.
“It was only right that we celebrate his 80th birthday in style.”