Legacy of the Pumpkin King

PUBLISHED: 12:20 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 06 May 2010

Phoebe and Cindy with Jack’s last crop of winning pumpkins

Phoebe and Cindy with Jack’s last crop of winning pumpkins

THE legacy of a champion pumpkin grower lives on after seeds he planted weeks before he died won the largest trophy in a competition. For eight years, Jack Gifford successfully took the crown at Ashwell s horticultural show as the best pumpkin raiser in t

THE legacy of a champion pumpkin grower lives on after seeds he planted weeks before he died won the largest trophy in a competition.

For eight years, Jack Gifford successfully took the crown at Ashwell's horticultural show as the best pumpkin raiser in the village.

In March, Jack - the "pumpkin king" as he was affectionately known - planted some Atlantic Giant seeds in the hope of winning a ninth trophy.

But just a few weeks later he died at the age of 80.

But Jack's wish came true when his wife Phoebe, 85, and daughter Cindy Wilson, 53, took over the care of the seeds.

Cindy said: "We weren't sure what to do at first because this was always Dad's job.

"We looked back at all his newspaper clippings to see what he used to do. We read back and used his various tips and, as you can see, they worked.

"Dad planted the seeds in the hope of winning and we wanted to win it for him and continue his work."

Phoebe, of Kirby Manor Farm, Ashwell, said: "It was a lovely feeling to find out that we had won and I thought of Jack straight away.

"He loved his gardening and spent his whole life in the garden or on the farm.

"He loved watching the pumpkins grow and always seemed to grow the biggest.

"We tried to see if we could beat his, but we just missed out."

Their winning pumpkin weighed in at 142lb - 2lb lighter than Jack's 2005 winner.

Cindy said: "Mum and I worked really well together and I think that Dad would have been really proud of us both.

"I'm not sure whether we will enter next year, although it would be nice to keep the trophy in the family for a tenth year. We'll just have to wait and see."

Liz Moynihan, chairman of Ashwell's Horticultural Society, said: "I think it's absolutely brilliant. I am really thrilled that Phoebe and Cindy are carrying on the tradition and growing pumpkins.

"Jack will always be missed and never forgotten. There are lots of pictures of him peering over his pumpkins.


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