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New garden centre at Le Friquet finally blooms

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AFTER a decade of delays, the new multi-million-pound Le Friquet Garden Centre opened yesterday.

AFTER a decade of delays, the new multi-million-pound Le Friquet Garden Centre opened yesterday.

Crowds filled the reception area and a queue stretched out of the door.

Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rowland officially opened the centre at noon.

He was impressed by the 5,000sq. metre octagonal space, where more than 70 people are now employed.

'It is wonderful to see this imaginative and innovative investment,' he said.

'Islanders will be excited by this new multi-purpose centre.'

Blue Diamond Group managing director Alan Roper said he had never been tempted to give up on the project, which cost an undisclosed seven-figure sum.

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'Today, looking at the centre, is the best day of my life,' he said.

'It has taken 10 years, but it was worth it.'

Problems arose due to confusion over the definition of a garden centre. But 18 months ago, work began on the facility.

Included is a cafe and a lecture theatre.

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There is still work to be done. The old centre will be knocked down over the Christmas period and be replaced with a mini railway.

Centre manager Tony Ingrouille said the number of staff at the new centre was twice that at the previous site.

'It is amazing,' he said. 'The reaction from everybody, including the staff, has been wonderful.'

He said it was very different working in the new venue.

'There is a lot more space, but we have kept the friendly atmosphere.'

He said the new lecture theatre could seat about 50 people and will be free for use by gardening clubs and schools.

'It is about working with the community,' he said.

Shoppers at the opening were impressed.

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