20th Jul, 2019

Solihull novice gardener battled through harsh winter in memory of her dad Mike Dolby

Sarah Mason 18th Apr, 2018

A NOVICE gardener has battled through snow, sleet and rain in a bid to renovate a garden in memory of her dad Mike Dolby.

Louise Dolby was left heartbroken when her dad, a former president at Norman Green Athletics Centre in Solihull, lost his battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal lung disease, in December 2016.

Following this tragedy the Solihull resident decided to put her career on hold to spend time with her four-year-old daughter Isla.

Over the years Mike was recognised for his work in athletics and was invited by the Queen to Buckingham Palace in 2014 to attend a summer garden party in recognition of his contribution to UK athletics.

Mike was just 75 years old when he died and was awarded the Solihull Civic Sports Award for his contribution to sport in the borough in 2013.

Louise said: “After my Dad passed away I realised my career was taking over my life. I was working long hours and spending way too much time away from Isla.

“Losing my dad made me see that life really was too short, so I decided to take a year off work.

“It was during this time of reflection that I came up with the idea of renovating a huge section of my garden which was very overgrown, in aid of the charity Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis who provide support to patients living with the disease and also fund medical research into better treatments.”

In January she started the 90-day challenge and set about cutting back the six-foot weeds from across 200sqm and making raised beds out of poplar wood in a bid to transform her garden.

She added: “Whilst most people thought I was silly starting in winter, I needed to get it finished in time for the summer so I could actually grow and harvest something this year.

“I didn’t realise we would go on to have one of the worst winters in years and that my work would be interrupted by so much snow.”

The 43-year-old started filming her work so she could replay and remember what she had done in the future.

She put these onto Youtube and now has 187 followers from all over the world including Australia, America and Canada.

She said: “I think my Youtube channel is quite unique because of the state the garden was in to begin with.

“It’s been a hugely physical effort to transform it and has been completed solely by me with no help whatsoever from anyone else.”

The single-mum said: “I’m not going to lie, this has to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and way more physically demanding that I thought it would be.

“So I’m definitely proud of my achievements, but I will be happy when its finished and I can sit in the garden and actually enjoy it, hopefully with some sunshine in the sky.

“The donations I receive for the charity are what keep me out there grafting.

“Complete strangers have donated as well as friends and family, therefore I feel a huge responsibility to finish it now and to do a good job.

“I like a real challenge and wanted to do something that would show determination, strength and perseverance.

“Something that people would watch and think ‘Wow, shes worked hard, I’ll donate to that charity’.”

For more or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/Louise-Dolby1

To watch how Louise’s garden has transformed visit www.youtube.com and search for ‘The Novice Gardener.’

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