It is with great sadness that the family, Directors and staff at Hayes Garden World announce the passing of Mrs Elizabeth Hayes. Elizabeth passed on Sunday 5th January 2020.
Elizabeth, devoted wife of the late Thomas Leith, was Mother to Richard and the late Monica and the much-loved Grandmother of Martin & Megan.
Elizabeth, or Betty to those who knew her well, always had an active role in the Garden Centre. She started work in the shop, which was then located in Calluna House, now the garden centre head-office building. With her colleague, Thelma Hayes, she worked alternate weekends selling plants grown in the nursery, allowing husband Leith and long-serving staff member Fred to work elsewhere on-site. In later years, as the garden centre business expanded, she continued to work alongside Thelma in the small café, comprising just 10 or 12 seats in those days! Elizabeth thoroughly enjoyed her role which allowed her to spend time with the family, customers and staff alike. In later years she began to merchandise ranges of decorative giftware for sale in the café. During this time her young Grandson, Martin, would frequently offer his assistance in disposing of the empty cardboard boxes for his Grandmother, although he often became side-tracked and made dens out of them instead!
In 1987, the garden centre saw a major moment in its trading history and a momentous occasion for the Hayes family with the opening of the iconic “Crystal Palace” building. The unusual and unique architecture established the business as one of the key players in the developing garden centre sector and marked the start of the large and successful business we know today. The opening in 1987 was doubly-special as it was not only performed by botanist and broadcaster the late David Bellamy, but was also the date of the christening of Elizabeth’s grandson, Martin.
Elizabeth and husband Leith became very well known in the garden centre industry. They often travelled internationally to conferences and events, bringing back some fantastic and innovative ideas from around the world, including some rare plants and trees that continue to flourish at Hayes Garden World, today. Closer to home they also regularly attended shows in the UK, including Harrogate and Birmingham which they sometimes attended accompanied by staff members from the garden centre shop. On journeys to these events the team would often stop at “Etna”, their favourite Italian restaurant in Lancaster, where they always enjoyed a laugh and a joke with the Sicilian owner, Dominic. Elizabeth and Leith forged strong friendships over the years, too many to list here but those with Derek Bunker, Ron Bent and Beryl & Dave Stafford are worthy of a special mention. Elizabeth and Beryl were great friends and would continue to go on cruises together into their later years.
Perhaps one of Elizabeth’s proudest moments occurred in 1992, when, as a result of all the years of hard work she and Leith had put into building the business, the garden centre was awarded the accolade of Garden Centre of the Year. A photograph marking this achievement still hangs in the Hayes’ company offices to this day. Sadly, a few months after this crowning event Elizabeth’s beloved husband, Leith, passed away. However, in the aftermath of this sad event, new doors were opened as the next generation of the Hayes family took the reins of the business. In October 1993, Elizabeth was delighted to see her son, Richard, take the helm and was proud to see how he and the management team continued to drive it forward over the coming decades.
Although in recent years Elizabeth stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business, she remained a passionate champion of maintaining standards at the highest level, paying attention to detail and keeping management on their toes! She knew the staff members well and enjoyed seeing many of them flourish over the years as they gravitated from young junior assistants to senior managers, team leaders and buyers. Some long-standing staff members became good friends with whom Elizabeth enjoyed some wonderful holidays, revelling in the sights and always having plenty of fun!
Elizabeth Hayes personified everything that has made the Hayes Garden World business such a success: she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.