A LONG-SERVING employee of a popular Worcestershire attraction has been honoured for his years of hard work.

Malcolm Walford worked at the National Trustowned Croome Court, near Pershore, for 60 years before his retirement in 1998 and was given the opportunity to plant a gingko bilboa tree in the Temple Greenhouse shrubbery in remembrance of his six decades of service.

He started work at the parkland in 1953 aged 20, carrying out hard manual jobs such as cleaning out wells and shovelling snow off roofs.

“There were no JCBs in those days,” he said. One of the worst jobs was cleaning out the farm wells.

“They dropped a pole ladder into the well and I had to go down until I reached the water.

“A bucket would be lowered on a pulley and I’d have to fill it up until the well was empty. Then I’d have to clean out all the mud from the bottom and knock all the snails off the sides.

“You never had any protective clothing and there was no health and safety in those days.”

After years of hard work he was promoted to stores controller and later company secretary of the building company owned by the 11th Earl of Coventry.

Despite his retirement, Mr Walford finds it difficult to stay away from the park, and still visits two mornings a week. “I live, sleep and breathe Croome,” he said.

Gingko trees were first planted at Croome in the 18th and 19th centuries by the Earls of Coventry, who employed legendary landscape gardener Capability Brown.

And Mr Walford said he hoped the tree would stand in memory of not only his 60 years of service, but also his late son Kevin and all those who worked at the estate over the past six decades.

“I’m planting this tree today to mark not only my 60 years of service to the Croome Estate but also for my late son Kevin Walford and for all the workers from the Croome Estate in 1953,” he explained.

Croome Court was built in the 18th century and later served as a secret RAF base during World War Two.

The attraction is open throughout the winter from 10am to 4pm and the main building is open from noon to 3pm every weekday apart from Thursday and 11am to 4pm on weekends.

For more information, call 01905 371006 or visit national trust.org.uk/ croome.