Thanksgiving service held for Charles Notcutt

A thanksgiving service held for Charles Notcutt, who has died aged 81, has been attended by more than 500 people.

Notcutt was an inspirational and popular leader of the horticultural community. He was instrumental in the rapid growth of Notcutts, which was founded as a family nursery business in 1897 by his grandfather, and which he pioneered as a nationally known group of garden centres, always emphasizing their horticultural excellence.

He joined Notcutts in 1958, the year the company opened its first garden centre in Woodbridge, Suffolk. At this time plant-buying as a leisure activity was in its infancy. However, the concept of container-grown stock - initially potted in tin cans - was just taking off. As with many nurserymen of his generation, he was initially overwhelmed by the sheer numbers driving to his planteria. Having established a trusted team, he steadily developed the business into a national chain.

He was a member of the RHS Council for 10 years, heavily involved with the HTA and the first chairman of the Garden Centre Association when it was formed in 1966. He was also involved in the creation of the Institute of Horticulture, subsequently becoming its president.

At Notcutts, he was managing director from 1964 and chairman from 1974. He retired and became life president in 2006. He was also vice-chairman of Perennial, chairman of the joint NFU and HTA nursery committee and a committee member of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and the Tree Council. He was much involved in horticultural education with Writtle College, Otley College and the NFU horticultural education committee. He was also involved with East Malling Research, the John Innes Research and the Glasshouse Crops Institutes.

Notcutt received the prestigious Victoria Medal of Honour in 1997 and an OBE for his services to horticulture. He was also awarded the HTA Pearson Memorial Medal. He is survived by his three children, from his first marriage - Caroline (who is Notcutts vice-chairman), William and Andrew - and eight grandchildren.

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