I never take for granted how fortunate I am to have not just good staff, but extraordinarily exceptionally outstanding staff; our most recent addition being Sarah Churchman.
Sarah was born in the UK but couldn’t wait to get across the channel the moment she finished school. She was and still is a Francophile. She spent three years working and studying in Dijon, Paris and Strasbourg before returning to Britain where she worked for a French company called ‘Remy Martin’, distributors of top shelf Cognac and Champagne.
For two years she was PA to the managing director of Club Med UK, while her closing act in the corporate world was with a firm called ‘International Survey Research’.
Sarah is, however, a country girl. She knew that high heels and business suits was not where she wanted to be, so on weekends and after work she toiled on a diploma through the Royal Horticultural Society. Upon graduation she tossed in her job under fluorescent lights for one at garden centre in Fulham. That’s not far from Kensington, also Wimbledon, and Richmond (on Thames); not ‘country’, but in the sun (such as it was).
Say what you like about the English weather, they do know a thing or two about gardening over there. One of Sarah’s most cherished memories is viewing Joseph Banks journal. It was stored at the Linnaeum Society. Sarah’s knowledge is encyclopaedic. Many times she has rescued me when someone asked for the name of one of our plants which I didn’t know.
At a party Sarah met a Kiwi engineer called Errol. They hit it off and talked about getting married. First, however, they had to pass the six week Transit van test. That is six weeks travelling through Europe together in a Transit van. Errol decided that they both achieved a ‘C’ or better, and proposed to Sarah under the Eiffel Tower.
In 1999 they immigrated to Western Australia. It was good for Errol’s work. Sarah got a job in a garden centre, and while in Perth trained as a florist.
Sarah’s floristry training was at the Teutonic ‘Flowers Design School’ under the clear blue eyes of German Master Florists. The Germans are very serious about floristry. In Germany there are degrees in floristry, and Sarah’s teachers had them.
Sarah gave birth to her son Toby, and briefly ran her own wedding flowers business, but circumstances called Errol back to New Zealand. His father was not well and that is how they came to live in Richmond. Sarah was far from unhappy to be coming to New Zealand. In fact she was smiling so radiantly as she went through immigration, that the officer asked what was up. The truth was that she was excited about getting her finger in the soil, and enjoying a temperate climate. In Perth the ‘soil’ is sand and the heat can be sapping.
Sarah ended up working for Eyebright in the usual way. She called at the shop. Therese and I interviewed her. I then thought on it for a few weeks, and finally decided that she was our girl. Good decision.
Apr 29, 2016 • Peter Owen