Tony came from a sporting family and his schoolboy achievements included playing rugby for the Southern Counties and representing England in athletics. His success in hammer throwing attracted him to study medicine at Birmingham, where Howard Payne, the British hammer throwing champion, lecturered in physiology.
His parents had a large garden in Southampton. He was brought up on endless weeding of vegetable plots and resolved that, if he ever had his own garden, he would somehow beat the weeds. He also developed very useful pruning skills whilst cutting more than 150 yards of hedges at his parents’ home.
He met Marie in 1972 when she was a first year student at the Queen Elizabeth School of Nursing. After three years of working as a volunteer, first as a housemother in a half-way house in Houston, Texas, and then as an untrained nurse, riding on horseback in the mountains of Guatemala, Marie had come back to her hometown of Birmingham, England, to begin formal nurse training.
Marie had little experience in gardening but enjoyed heavy physical work, especially pickaxing! It was only when she was a student that she got properly into growing plants, including vegetables. Unfortunately, in an attempt to kill blackfly on her runner beans, she used too strong a solution of washing up liquid - with disastrous results! Tony offered to teach her and so began a shared passion for gardening that has continued for over forty-five years, and even more so since our retirement in 2009.
We married in 1975 and Tony completed his general medical practitioner training and Marie went on to qualify as a nurse, midwife and health visitor. In 1977 we worked for nine months as volunteers in a rural hospital in West Bengal, India. After taking a career break of sixteen years to care for their four children, in 1996 Marie returned to paid employment and worked for thirteen years as a transport planner with Walsall Council.