Tribute paid to garden centre chain boss Charles Notcutt

Charles Notcutt

Charles Notcutt

Tribute has been paid to a leading horticulturalist and businessman who died on Wednesday.

Staff past and present celebrated the Woodbridge Notcutts garden centre�s 50th anniversary with Will

Staff past and present celebrated the Woodbridge Notcutts garden centre�s 50th anniversary with William Notcutt and Charles Notcutt (holding cake).

Charles Notcutt was the former chairman of family-owned garden centres company Notcutts and gave much to Woodbridge, the town in which the highly successful business was founded. He died peacefully at home on Wednesday.

Born in 1934, he joined the Woodbridge-based firm started by his great grandfather in 1958, retiring 50 years later in 2008, when he became non-executive president.

The first garden centre opened in Woodbridge in 1958. He built up a trusted team around him and expanded the business, which today has branches across the country, including at Norwich, Woodbridge and Peterborough, enjoys a turnover of around £55million and employs around 1200 staff.

Son, William, said his father “led life to the full”, and enjoyed a career which spanned the growth of container plant production, social mobility and the motor car.

Former floristry department managers Sally Pearson (left) and Isobel Wilton with Charles Notcutt, ce

Former floristry department managers Sally Pearson (left) and Isobel Wilton with Charles Notcutt, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Notcutts Garden Centre

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“He rode the crest of the wave as a force for good and he left a changed landscape in his wake for the better. As a dad, he was always interested. He always had a thought and views on how things could be done, but he was always interested,” he said.

“He certainly enjoyed plants, both in the natural setting and in gardens, but he was a good businessman. He knew where the profit was and he took advantage of opportunities as well as creating opportunities.”

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He served on various industry bodies, helping to nurture not just his own business but also benefiting the industry and society as a whole, said William.

Mr Notcutt was actively involved in town life, including a term as mayor of Woodbridge as well as being involved in Woodbridge Museum, Woodbridge Rugby Club, and the Rotary Club of Woodbridge.

He was a member of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) council from 1959 to 1971, and was on the governing bodies of the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute, East Malling Research Station and John Innes Research Institute. He was made a Fellow of Writtle College in 2009. He twice served as the chairman of Woodbridge Horticultural Society and was a former governor of Otley College and a past president of the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

Geoff Holdcroft, deputy leader at Suffolk Coastal District Council, described him as “a lovely person”.

“He was a very generous, open-hearted person,” he said. “When he first fell ill, everyone was deeply shocked and rallied around the family to support them. It’s both a personal and a public tragedy.”

Former Woodbridge town mayor Les Binns said: “He always thought of others. He tried in his life to do all he could to help others and to improve the community around us. He was just an out-and-out gentleman.”

Suffolk Agricultural Association chairman Robert Rous said he was a past president and “a passionate advocate for horticulture and nurseries”. Horticultural Trades Association chief executive officer Carol Paris said he was “a true plantsman”., Charles has done so much for the industry throughout his career. A lovely chap who will be sorely missed by many.”

Charles Notcutt is survived by wife, Gill, children William, Caroline and Andrew, and eight grandchildren.

The family will be holding a private burial followed by a memorial service at a later date.

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