Jack Ogg is Senior Gardener at York Gate, Perennial’s garden near Leeds in Yorkshire. He was the garden’s first trainee horticulturist and here he talks about how Perennial helped him during a difficult time in his career.
“I came to gardening as a career through volunteering at York Gate over 10 years ago now. I’ve always loved gardening and enjoyed spending time helping in the garden when I wasn’t at work. It was through the volunteering that I found out about a Professional Gardeners’ Guild training placement, funded by Perennial, based in the first year at York Gate. I applied and was awarded the position – I was the garden’s first trainee. Although I was unable to finish the diploma due to family commitments, the two years I spent on the course gave me the confidence and experience I needed to make gardening a full-time career.
After leaving York Gate I set up as a self-employed gardener with a friend. We were both keen to find local gardening work to fit around family life. My wife was about to have our first baby and I was excited about the prospect of being able to help in between jobs. But finding regular work as a self-employed gardener is hard and we soon started to struggle. In addition, our son was born with Cystic Fibrosis which really threw us – he underwent his first operation, to remove part of his bowel, at just three days old. Many more hospital trips followed and while we were completely focused on Ellis and his health needs, we continued to struggle to make ends meet. We had a mortgage and bills to pay and I didn’t know how we were going to manage. That’s when I thought about Perennial.
I knew of the charity through my volunteering and the trainee course and when I phoned to explain we needed help I wasn’t disappointed. They were brilliant right from the start, visiting us at home to talk everything through and immediately started helping us with finances and budgeting. It wasn’t until I spoke to Perennial that I realised what a burden everything had become. It was like a weight had been lifted and I was able to see clearly again. I knew I needed to look for more permanent work and leave self-employment behind.
One of my traineeship years was spent at Harewood House and I saw a gardener job come up there not long after Perennial had helped get us back on our feet. I applied, got the job and spent the next 8 years looking after the Himalayan garden there. It was at the beginning of last year, the day after my Mum suddenly passed away, that I heard about the Senior Gardener position back at York Gate. I knew I had to apply.
Ellis is 8 now and is doing well. He still needs regular checks up at the hospital and he has to take a lot of daily medication to manage his condition, but we feel like we’re on top of it and nothing seems to hold him back. Home life is good and now that I’m in regular paid employment, doing what I love, I feel we’re in a much better place.
Perennial really supported me and my family at a really difficult time in our lives and so it feels like coming home as I cycle the 15 minutes it takes me to get to the garden. I am now giving something back by helping look after York Gate and spreading the word to visitors about how Perennial helps so others might benefit in the future.”
If you know someone who needs help, find out more about Perennial’s free and confidential services for anyone who has worked, or works in the horticulture sector in the UK. This includes gardeners, nursery owners and workers, garden designers, landscapers, arborists, foresters, garden centre staff, commercial growers, turf maintenance specialists and many more.
Call 0800 093 8543 or email firstname.lastname@example.org