HASKINS Garden Centre has saluted a 30-year veteran who went from being a plantman to a buyer in charge of a £3.5m budget.

Colin Brickell was interviewed by chairman Warren Haskins for a job at the original Haskins at Tricketts Cross, Ferndown.

The former Summerbee Secondary School pupil had already trained in horticulture with Bournemouth parks department.

He went on to become a crucial member of the buying team, based at head office in Longham, and took on the role of group plant buyer.

Directors, including Warren Haskins and chief executive Julian Winfield, held a lunch in his honour and he was presented with £300 in gift vouchers.

Mr Haskins said: “When Colin joined the company it employed less than 50 people.

“We now have a payroll of 550 people. In that time we have relocated the Ferndown centre to the current site at Longham, and expanded to own four prime garden centres in southern England. We thank Colin for his long and loyal service.”