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Roger Giles

page created January 2007, amended/updated Saturday, 31 July 2010

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The Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard newspapers used to have a regular weekly feature entitled "Getting to know you" in which people who were prominent in their local community were asked to respond to a series of questions.

And what better subject to feature here was their choice for the 5th January 2007 issue - a modest man who not only runs a very successful business here in Welney but who has also done so much to enhance the social life of Welney over such a long period.

In answer to question 3 he could have added that he was also very heavily involved with the highly successful Welney Gala 2004, nearly 40 years after the original Galas.

I am grateful to the Cambs Times for permission to post this item on the Welney website.


"1 Who are you?
Roger Giles, originally from Kent but, for the past 48 years, Welney.
2 What do you do?
I own Giles Landscapes which has been in business for nearly 30 years designing and building commercial and private landscapes and gardens. Worked on various local high profile projects such as Greyfriars Tower, King's Lynn; Cambridge park and ride; Granta Park; Gunpowder Park and the Chelsea Flower Show.
3 Why would people know you?
I was chairman of Welney Galas in the 60s and 70s and chairman of Welney skating committee which aims to keep this famous Fen heritage alive. A frequent misconception is that I am an accomplished speed skater. This is in fact my son Adam who appeared on 'Ice Warriors', the ice equivalent of 'Gladiators' and is a British gold medal cyclist. People may also know of me from our successes at Chelsea Flower Show. Our 2004 Wildlife Trust garden won the BBC People's Choice Award and a silver medal. Our 2005 entry our Wildlife Trust Lush garden was also awarded a silver medal and came second in The BBC People's Choice Award.
4 On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) how do you rate your sense of humour?
8 out of 10 (on a good day)
5 What was your last text message you sent or received?
That would be telling!
6 Give us at least five pet hates
People who take advantage of disadvantaged people, negativity about the fens, negativity about Britain, apathy, bitterness.
7 Is it time for Britain to abolish the Royal Family?
No. I feel it is part of our heritage that sets us apart from other countries but I do think it needs modernising a bit. We have worked on the Sandringham estate landscaping the caravan park where the Duke of Edinburgh said it looked more like a tubbex convention than a country park. However, he did understand that we had to protect the plants from his deer.
8 Are you looking forward to the smoking ban in pubs and why?
Definitely. One of my best friends died of lung cancer at a very young age. We do have some power to reduce cancer's effects by not smoking.
9 What is the favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe, and why?
I have always been a fan of Bruce Forsyth and wanted a shirt like he wears on Come Dancing. I got a fancy blue striped one that I will probably wear forever.
10 Where is the capital of the Fens and why?
To me it is Wisbech. In the 50s when I moved to the area, Wisbech had a proud history. As you came into the town it had a prosperous feel and there was a feeling you could make a living out of five acres of land with strawberries and soft fruit.
11 Which TV programme sends you to the off button?
Ann Robinson.
12 If you had £1,000 to blow what would you do with it?
Go to Vegas. All the old dancers of the 60s seem to be playing out their last flings there.
13 What football result do you look for first and why?
Newcastle. Shearer was the man. He was boisterous but not without a certain style.
14 Name a town or country you would never want to return to, and your reasons
I have been on many cancellation holidays where the exact destination is unknown but always liked it. I did have a bad experience in Phuket though. First of all my step daughter picked me up from the airport on a motorcycle which put the fear of God in me as there seems to be no highway code out there. I then caught a virus which I thought was some foreign plague and was convinced I was going die. But I recovered and enjoyed the rest of the trip.
15 Who would you most like to sit next to on an aeroplane and why?
At the moment we are in desperate need of sponsorship for this year's Chelsea Flower Show so I would have to say any managing director of any big company.
16 Who would you cross the road to avoid?
There is no-one I dislike enough to do that.
17 What is the worst job you have ever had to do?
When I was a sheep farmer things were so bad I would get up at 5am to look after the sheep then box up celery in the field for £10 a day.
18 Who was you childhood hero and why?
Alan Ladd. I used to watch him at the ABC minors Saturday cinema and loved the way he beat all the villains who picked on him.
19 If you weren't doing your current job, what else might you have chosen?
It would have to be sheep shearing - it's very physical so maybe I wouldn't be up to it now so perhaps a dance host on a cruise liner.
20 Your claim to fame?
Having our Chelsea gardens on international television.
21 What's your biggest regret in life?
Opportunities that have passed me. Knowing what I know now I would have taken them - but that's life! Also I didn't always understand other people's problems as I should have done in my younger days."
roger skating Left, Roger skating on Welney Washes, early 2000s
below as a milkmaid in a Welney Gala in the 1970s
(all photos on this page from the Website archives)
 1970s gala
Related pages on this website
Welney Galas 1960s-70s
Welney Skating Club
Other websites (new windows)
Giles Landscapes
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