Passion for gardening blooms for former football player

AFTER starting out in football, Liam Gaughan, 24, has found his true passion in gardening and will lead Herm to next year’s Britain in Bloom.

Liam Gaughan, head gardener on Herm, with the awards won in the Floral Guernsey Community competition. (Picture by Sophie Rabey 25981210)
Liam Gaughan, head gardener on Herm, with the awards won in the Floral Guernsey Community competition. (Picture by Sophie Rabey 25981210)

Originally from Doncaster in Yorkshire, Liam was headed down the path of football before making a career change.

‘I played a lot of semi professional football. I wanted a career as a professional but I got injured and lost a lot of play time.’

Liam played for Doncaster Rovers Youth and then the semi professional Matlock Town.

‘I got introduced to gardening by my uncle, who had a business in landscape gardening.

‘I thought I’d give it a go, that was five years ago and I absolutely fell in love with it so that’s what I did.’

Liam had never spent time in the garden before.

‘Gardening rebooted me, it’s very therapeutic. If your life goes into a dark place gardening can get you out of it.’

Liam started looking for gardening jobs online.

‘I saw an advert saying “come and work in paradise island.” I’m from Doncaster and I’d never heard of Herm.

‘I had a look and thought it must be a job in the Caribbean so I googled it and thought “what is that tiny dot, there can’t be life there”.’

However the description sounded good and Liam applied.

Before he knew it, he had an interview and then the job.

Liam has now been head gardener for around 19 months.

‘I’m a confident person, you can stick me in the desert and I’d be fine. It was quite nerve-racking and a change, leaving the family and my girlfriend.’

However Liam said the community was welcoming and made all the difference.

‘It’s been a challenge, last year was very tough because I arrived quite late in the season. I planned and planned and listened to people, heard their advice, then thought I will smash it this year.’

Liam certainly reaped the rewards. Herm won best local environment, the most improved award and gold in the community competition as well as receiving the Lady Dorey trophy, which gives it the right to represent the Bailiwick in the Britain in Bloom National competition next year.

‘It was brilliant, I’m so proud of myself, all I could think about was my mum and dad – if you put your mind to something you can do it.

‘It felt amazing, I was stunned, and then thought “back to work” – I’m absolutely over the moon.’

Liam said the community spirit was what was so unique about Herm – and the other islands.

This year Liam worked to create more floral displays around the harbour and the hotel.

‘I worked hard on the hotel front borders. It might be a four star hotel, but I wanted to make it a five star garden.’

Liam said one of his proudest creations was the island herb garden.

‘There was a courtyard in the community that I wanted to interact with a bit more. I was inspired by Sark and made a herb courtyard for people to pick from. In Herm if the weather’s bad and you can’t go to the shops but you can still pick from the courtyard, the public loved that.’

Liam now looks forward to the future and is looking to gain more landscape gardening qualifications.

He is also getting used to living with his girlfriend now she has completed her master’s and joined him in Herm.

‘She’s settled in and we can see ourselves staying for a long time.’

Liam said what he loved about Herm was finishing at 5pm and being on the beach by 5.05pm.

‘There are so many things – and just the peace and quiet.

‘Although on a little island, you’re not that far from civilisation really, you’ve got Guernsey close by if you want to get away and see the traffic.’

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