Group welcomes back founder Joan

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A 95-year-old founding member of an Ilkeston group made a surprise visit to its 60th anniversary show.

Joan Ellson, founder member of Ilkeston’s Old Park Ward OAP Fund (horticultual section) in 1955, surprised the group when she went along to this year’s Diamond Jubilee Open Show.

Miss Elson, who held office as the fund’s secretary during her long involvement with the group, was given the red carpet treatment throughout the day.

Current president Ann Bagshaw, who herself has devoted 18 years to the running of the group, was happy to see Miss Ellson at the event.

She said: “It is fitting that Joan should be here for our 60th anniversary show.

“She laid the foundation stones upon which the horticultural show has blossomed and we shall be forever grateful for the part she has played down the years.”

During recollections of times past, Miss Ellson harked back to the 1960s when floods in Hallam Fields were so bad that residents were forced out of their homes.

Miss Ellson said: “It was a dire situation and I remember that following our annual horticultural show we invited people affected to bed down at the Welcome Hall until things improved.”

Delighted by this year’s show, Miss Ellson praised the exhibitors.

She said: “Everyone has produced some wonderful entries. The chrysanthemums and dahlias were almost perfect and the vegetable growers have excelled.”

Taking the honours with their dazzling chrysanthemum entries were brothers David and Len Collishaw, while Mick Hogg (spray chrysants), Bill Taylor (dahlias) and Alf Baker all picked up trophies.

In the vegetable classes, the honours were shared with John Stevenson and Albert Attewell setting the standards, while in the culinary section Rachel Davies set the benchmark for success.

Young exhibitors also had their moment of glory with Kaydn Drew, Noah Marshall, Molly Taylor and Jaden Litton-Baker winning medals with their entries in the children’s classes.

An auction of produce, which took place afterwards, was carried out by the fund’s chairman Martin Bagshaw and raised a sum of more than £300 towards the show’s running costs.

Giving a vote of thanks to all who played a part in the event’s success, president Ann Bagshaw said: “It has been a wonderful show and the atmosphere has been electric. It is a really special milestone and an appreciation of all those who have supported us over the years.”