96-YEAR-OLD John Podzukites is continuing to pursue his passion for gardening after purchasing a potting shed for the care home where he lives.
John has been working in the garden at Ingleby Care Home, in Ingleby Barwick, near Middlesbrough, since he started living there in 2013.
His latest addition is a large potting shed he insisted on buying with his own money – despite the home offering to contribute.
John has since bequeathed the shed to the home when he passes and has made it available for other green-fingered residents to use.
Previously, John has installed a plant propagator near the sensory garden and helped to create a rose garden in memory of his wife, Joan.
Ahead of his 97th birthday in December, John and his daughter Joan Coppard visited the nearby garden centre to pick out the perfect potting shed so he can continue his hobby.
He is now able to keep all his plants in one place, alongside his garden equipment, and has a raised platform from which to work.
He said: “I wanted to treat myself to a bigger shed because I needed more space, so I went to the garden centre with my daughter and chose the one I liked, which they came and fitted for me.
“I can now plant my morning glory, as they need certain temperatures, which is easier to maintain in the shed. There is also space for my climbing plants to be able to climb now.”
John took up gardening after retiring as an ICI rigger in 1987, a job he held for 22 years. Previously, he was a contract worker and then a rigger for British Steel.
His first job was in the Merchant Navy, when he helped deliver essential supplies to the Soviet Union during the height of the Second World War.
In 2016, he was awarded the Medal of Ushakov by the Russia Federation for services on the on the “Arctic Convoys” in 1944 – named the “worst journey in the world” by Winston Churchill.
Carol Singleton, home manager at Ingleby Care Home, said: “John is a much loved character at Ingleby Care Home and, since living here, he’s received a medal for his service during the Second World War, given school children a first-hand history lesson from his memories and inspired a full choir performance in our lounge for his 96th birthday.
“There is never a dull moment with John around and, since day one, we were only too happy to support him in pursuing his keen interest in gardening.
“We were delighted when he had the idea of getting a large potting shed for the garden and, despite our insistence on contributing, he wouldn’t have it – choosing to buy the shed with his own money.
“I’m sure our residents will enjoy using the shed for many years to come and we can only say a huge thank you to John for purchasing it and bequeathing it to the home.”