Buxton’s award-winning pensioner who still gardens at 97

Gardener Betty Allen
Gardener Betty Allen

One Buxton pensioner says she is happiest when she is in her garden.

Betty Allen, of Broad Walk, whiles away her time in her well-kept garden and loves all things plant related, but leaves the mowing of the grass to someone younger.

Gardener Betty Allen

Gardener Betty Allen

She is a well-known face around town as she and her husband, Harold, used to run Alan’s Grocer shop on West Road for nearly 25 years.

The couple were also on the board of governors for the Playhouse and then spent 20 years working as front of house staff at Buxton Opera House.

Betty lives alone, after Harold died 14 years ago, although she does have a budgie and has always kept birds since 1947, and she loves to be in the garden.

“My eyesight is going now but I don’t let that stop me, I do most of my gardening by touch now,” she said.

Betty has macular degeneration, an eye condition that causes loss of central vision, usually in both eyes.

She said: “The bright flowers are my favourite so I can see them and I like things with different textures and scents.”

Betty has had a variety of jobs, she started work as a clerk for the Co-Operative Insurance and met Harold in her teens.

The pair courted for seven years and got engaged before Harold was sent to India during the war.

It was during this time that Betty became a sergeant for the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the orderly room over in Derby. “It kept me good and it kept me busy,” she said.

The Buxton duo were married on May 1, 1946, and bought their first home which had a big garden, igniting her love of gardening.

She said: “It was always my mum who was a keen gardener but we soon learned what we were doing.”

Her prized piece of horticulture is a rose bush that used to belong to her grandma who died during the Second World War - Betty joked she must be doing something right with it!

When Betty’s eyes were stronger she used to be a keen painter and liked all things crafty, apart from knitting.

She also likes poetry but now has to remember the words as she can’t see them written down anymore.

“I have a sharp memory that goes back a long way.”

Flabbergasted to have won award

Betty bagged herself the Judges’ Prize for Endeavour at the Buxton in Bloom competition and she said she couldn’t believe she had even been put forward for anything.

“I can’t believe my garden won, I was flabbergasted when I found out ,” she explained.

“I don’t do it for prizes, just because it makes me happy.

“During the summer I like to spend an hour or two out there looking after the flowers, but I get lost out there and it can be nearly four hours before I’m finished.

“The time goes so quickly, especially nowadays .”

Buxton recently received a Silver Gilt in the East Midlands in Bloom competition for the town’s presentation.

Betty never lets the grass grow under her feet and is already busy thinking about flowers for next year.

She said: “If you want spring flowers you have to go out in autumn and plant the bulbs.

“I always have a project on the go, it is what keeps me young.”