Long service award for public servant after 25 years developing North Hertfordshire’s parks

Councillor John Booth presenting North Herts District Council's certificate of appreciation to parks

Councillor John Booth presenting North Herts District Council's certificate of appreciation to parks and countryside development manager Steve Geach. Photo: Alan Millard - Credit: Archant

A public servant who has worked to develop the parks of North Hertfordshire for a quarter of a century has been saluted with a long service award.

Stephen Geach, North Herts District Council’s parks and countryside development manager, was presented with the award by council chairman John Booth before last week’s Local Plan debate.

Stephen, who lives in Lower Stondon, told the Comet: “I have enjoyed engaging with young people during the consultation stages of the smaller projects like skate parks, and I have also really enjoyed being part of the team that worked on the renovation of Howard Park and Gardens.

“It is so rewarding to see so many people enjoying the park today.”

Mr Booth told the meeting how 57-year-old Stephen – whose first job after leaving school aged 16 was as a gravedigger – had helped to deliver ‘a vast number of improvements to green space’ since joining the district council in 1992.

The chairman said: “These have ranged from providing small skate parks across the district to helping in the delivery of large lottery-funded park refurbishment programmes like Broadway Gardens and Howard Park in Letchworth.

“More recently Stephen was instrumental in producing a new green space management strategy that takes into account the council’s financial position and protects the most important elements of green space for current and future generations to enjoy.

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“I would therefore like to move that the council places on record its sincere thanks to Stephen Geach for his long and valuable service to local government in North Hertfordshire.”

Council leader Lynda Needham seconded the motion, which was passed.

Stephen said in response: “I would like to thank the chairman for this award and can honestly say I have really enjoyed the past 25 years working for North Herts.

“It’s an interesting fact that since I started in 1992 there have been a considerable number of other members of staff that have also provided 25 years of service. This says a lot about the council being a good employer.

“I would like to particularly thank the leader Councillor Needham and Councillor Jane Gray, both of whom over the years I have been lucky enough to work closely with. I also retain fond memories of working closely with Councillor Peter Burt.

“At an officer level I would like to thank David Scholes, our chief executive, and Vaughan Watson, my head of services – both of whom have helped steer my path, but allowed me the freedom to make my own decisions.

“In summary, a big thank you to everyone for making the past 25 years with North Herts such an enjoyable and productive experience.”

Stephen joined the parks client team at North Herts District Council in March 1992, after spells as a gardener for the London Borough of Brent and as a London Borough of Harrow parks technical officer.

His first role was to help manage the new grounds maintenance contract, but during the mid-1990s his portfolio expanded to include public toilets and street cleaning.

He changed direction and took on his current role at the turn of the century.