Copeland parks manager retires after 38 years

Copeland parks manager retired, this week, after 38 years in the role.

Castle Park in Whitehaven Credit: Google Maps

Castle Park in Whitehaven Credit: Google Maps

John Davis was just 17 when he joined Copeland and worked his way up from seasonal gardener to tractor driver and eventually, Parks Manager.

Mr Davis said: “I came from a farming family and always wanted to be outside,I would sit at school and watch them cutting grass outside and think ‘that’s a dream job, I could do that one day.’”

He added: “Copeland has been a big part of my life and I’d class the people I’ve worked with as family really.”

Mr Davies remembers a large workforce of six tractor drivers and around 50 other staff, working entirely on Copeland projects.

He said: “A lot of the work back then was manual and labour intensive. There were no strimmers, we used hand shears. But things advanced quickly after that in terms of machinery.

“We had our own nurseries in Whitehaven, Beck Green and at Distington Walled Garden and maintained all our parks, such as Millom, St Nicholas’ and Egremont Castle.”

In the 1980s the council moved to commercialisation, Mr Davis said: “That was probably the biggest change during my career. We started bidding for other contracts, the main one of which was Home Housing.”

Davis became a manager of Copeland parks in 2012, but his passion was always to be outside – “I’d still put on overalls and go and help staff do the manual work.”

When asked what he has enjoyed most about his four decades with Copeland, Davis said: “Providing a service to the community, for the benefit of the people of Copeland.”

And what will he miss? “The recognition for the differences we make to the community. I will also miss all of my work colleagues” he said.

Davis will be keeping busy in retirement, he said: “I have some farmland, and hope to build a polytunnel for the garden. I will also spend time helping out my family in various roles.”

Davis is delighted his career is ending on a positive note with his team reaching the finals of the APSE ‘Team of the Year’ award.

He said: “I couldn’t think of a better way to finish on a high and I am extremely proud of my team.”

Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, paid tribute to John, he said: “John is universally liked and respected here at the council and he is a prime example of someone who carries out their work with pride. We will be very sad to see him go but wish him lots of luck for an active and rewarding retirement.”