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June 7, 2006

Partially-sighted gardener secures celebrity backing

From: Mansfield Chad - Mansfield,England,UK - Jun 7, 2006

A PARTIALLY-SIGHTED and deaf gardener from Teversal has been praised by green-fingered celebrity Alan Titchmarsh for his amazing achievements.

For George Wilcockson (59), of Fackley Road, was a guest of honour at the coveted Chelsea Flower Show where his exploits were featured during the BBC's coverage of the showpiece event.

And in addition he has been presented with the Senior Learner Award for the East Midlands for completing his Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) certificate.

Proud wife Virginia told Chad that gardening had been a life-long passion for George and he was thrilled to win the award.

"He was over the moon," she said. "It's given him a much needed confidence boost.

"He was at quite a low ebb and this news came through and it's really given him a lift.

"He knows every plant in his garden by touch, texture and smell.

"He loves his garden — he's in it day and night. He's an amazing man.

"He's proven that he can learn and he's still keen to carry on learning."

George is registered blind and is profoundly deaf so uses the deaf-blind manual's special 'finger spelling' method to communicate. His sight and hearing loss was triggered by a rare blood disease which he was diagnosed with in his 20s.

"Despite my problems, I try to have a positive outlook on life and encourage others to do the same," George told Chad.

"We can all achieve our goals if we make the effort."
Since completing the RHS certificate, George has been employed by West Notts College one day a week at a scheme for young adults with learning difficulties in Old Clipstone.

He is also a volunteer for a project at Southwell's Brackenhurst College for growing unusual vegetables.

He was nominated for the Senior Learner Award by Caroline Thomas, his tutor at Brackenhurst, who said: "George has cheerfully overcome difficulties and the loss of senses that others take for granted and has put his success towards community projects to help others."

© 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.