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Former managing director of Everton Nurseries John Collyer (83) has died at the age of 83

JOHN Collyer, the former managing director of Everton Nurseries, has died at the age of 83 as the business marks its centenary year.

Known for heading up the administrative and finance side of the family-run nursery and garden centre, John was a talented horticulturalist who c reated beautiful gardens at the homes he shared with his wife of 60 years, Janet.

Born in New Milton in 1938, John was the youngest of four children to parents Gordon and Mary Collyer. His father had founded Everton Nurseries in 1922 after buying a three-acre site near the A337 Lymington Road which was later substantially expanded.

John and Janet Collyer (54873666)
John and Janet Collyer (54873666)

By the time John arrived, the business was well established and, after attending Lord Wandsworth College near Basingstoke, he went on to Reading University to study horticulture.

His wife Janet recalled: “John was a very quiet person who loved trees and shrubs and roses. He had an extensive knowledge of plants and created the most beautiful garden in the three homes we shared.”

John and Janet first knew each other thanks to a longstanding friendship between their parents. But it was only in their late teens that their courtship began.

The couple were married at St Mary Magdalene Church in New Milton in 1961 before a honeymoon in France – the first of many overseas adventures they shared.

John Collyer (54873662)
John Collyer (54873662)

After university, John joined his father and older brother Michael as a director of Everton Nurseries.

Following the death of Gordon in 1982, he and Michael shared joint responsibility overseeing the office and finance, with Michael heading up the plant nursery.

They were proud of the thriving garden centre to which they later added the popular restaurant Camellias.

Janet said: “It was a life that he loved and enjoyed very much. He was always very interested in horticulture and very proud of how the business had grown. He always hoped to make it to this year to see Everton Nurseries celebrate its centenary year.”

John and Janet shared their first home in Lyon Avenue, New Milton, before moving to Chestnut Avenue in Barton and finally Barnes Lane in Milford. They had three children: Katy born in 1963, Sarah in 1965 and Robin in 1969.

Janet said: “All of our three children worked at the nurseries part-time when they were younger before they branched off to pursue their own careers. John was always incredibly proud and supportive of his children and grandchildren.”

Away from work John spent happy days with his family at their Milford beach hut and sailing at Keyhaven where he kept a boat for many years. He and Janet were keen cyclists and invested in electric bicycles in their 70s so they could spend more time touring the New Forest and local coastline.

Other shared interests included a longstanding membership of New Forest Players, with John appearing on stage (slightly reluctantly) a number of times. He was also a member of New Milton Round Table.

Travel was high on the agenda for the couple with many trips around Europe and later cruises to destinations across the globe. Janet said: “We really were incredibly lucky that we were able to travel to some wonderful places all over the world: Russia, America, China, Australia and especially New Zealand, a place that John loved very much.”

The couple enjoyed a celebration for their 50th wedding anniversary, with John continuing to work at Everton Nurseries until ill health forced his retirement in 2019 at the age of 80.

John spent his last few of years at Linden House Care Home in Lymington, where Janet visited him as often as possible. He died peacefully on 2nd February and is survived by Janet, his children and nine grandchildren.

A thanksgiving service will take place at Wessex Vale Crematorium, West End, at 12.15pm on Friday 25th February. Donations to the British Heart Foundation.

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