Gardener to five Prime Ministers awarded British Empire Medal

A Royal Parks gardener who has kept the grass green and roses smelling sweet for five British Prime Ministers has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).

Paul Schooling, 50, has been awarded the BEM for his 31 years of public service looking after some of London's most precious and unique spaces.

For the past 26 years, Paul, from Romford, Essex, has been the main gardener at 10 Downing Street, which has seen him mowing the lawn for Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and now David Cameron.

Schooling, who now works for The Royal Parks' ground maintenance contractor OCS, will receive his silver BEM medal later this year.

The gardener can thank the Queen for his long career. At the age of 18 he wrote to her asking for a job at Buckingham Palace. The reply sent him in the direction of the Royal Parks where he started work at the Hyde Park nursery before later moving on to St James's Park and tending to the gardens at the Houses of Parliament.

Schooling commented: "I treat the gardens at Downing Street like they are my own, even though I don't do a lot of work on my own garden because I don't have the time. In fact people here tend to ask me how my garden is rather than the Downing Street garden."

Having received a letter from Downing Street informing him about his BEM, the gardener said: "I am absolutely delighted and chuffed, if a little surprised. This will definitely be up there with some of the highlights of my career."

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