Les roots out success

Allotment of the year award winner Les Hawkins with coun Chris Ready at the Hope Carr Lane allotments in Leigh
Allotment of the year award winner Les Hawkins with coun Chris Ready at the Hope Carr Lane allotments in Leigh

A PENSIONER has proved beyond doubt that when it comes to growing vegetables he certainly has the right stuff.

Les Hawkins, 71, has been awarded the James Prescott Trophy by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) for having the borough’s best-kept allotment for the fifth year in a row.

Les, who took up growing vegetables nine years ago after beating bowel cancer, defied the torrential rains and sodden soils this summer which made this one of the poorest growing years and harvests in decades.

Les, who keeps his spick-and-span vegetable patch at Hope Carr Allotments, beat more than 300 other plots across the borough as the WLCT judges deemed his area the best of all.

He said: “It’s a brilliant feeling, I can’t believe I’ve won it for the fifth year.

“It’s not been easy with the weather, in fact it’s been terrible. My crops are about half what they were last year and I don’t know anyone who’s had a good year.

“It’s been a tough growing year but as always it’s still been hugely enjoyable.”

Les’ achievement is all the more impressive with the terrible summer weather which has decimated the crops of amateur and professional growers alike and led to soaring prices at the supermarkets.

Being awarded the trophy, which was originally donated by a keen gardener to Leigh Borough Council in 1956 to encourage people to care for their allotments, for the fifth consecutive year confirms Les has the greenest fingers in the borough.

WLCT parks activity co-ordinator Michael Fishwick said: “Les has proved once again that, despite one of the wettest seasons in history he is truly king of the crop.

“Les has consistently demonstrated innovative growing methods, excellent plot husbandry and the necessary skill to produce a broad range of fruit and vegetables.

“Competition from other tenants was strong this year, however Les held off the opposition to quite rightly retain his crown.”

Coun Chris Ready, Wigan Council cabinet member for leisure, said: “Les’s plot is immaculate and a testimony to his hard work and endeavour.

“Growing your own isn’t just a fantastic way of bringing down the cost of your shopping bill, it’s also a great exercise and because there’s hardly any food miles involved it reduces your carbon footprint.”

Allotments are growing in popularity across the borough, with long waiting lists for people wanting to start their own.

Cost-cutting and health boosts are among the benefits.