Gar­dener’s ca­reer over

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION -

BELOVED Kens­ing­ton Sec­ondary School gar­dener Ge­orge Bal­lan­tine has re­tired af­ter 43 years.

Mr Bal­lan­tine has a learn­ing dis­abil­ity and joined the school orig­i­nally as a 13-yearold stu­dent when it opened for chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

At age 18, he be­came the school gar­dener and an in­te­gral part of the com­mu­nity.

Mr Bal­lan­tine said his years as a gar­dener in­volved a lot of hard work but that changed a lit­tle when the au­to­matic retic­u­la­tion sys­tem was in­stalled.

“I used to have to pull a trol­ley full of metal pipes up a hill ev­ery day to lay them on the oval for wa­ter­ing,” he said. “It was hard yakka but you got fit.” Dur­ing his time, Mr Bal­lan­tine said he had seen a lot of staff and stu­dents come and go, but a few held a spe­cial place in his heart.

“My first head­mas­ter in 1973, Mr Phillips, he was a good man,” he said.

“I loved hav­ing a joke with the girls in the of­fice too. “It’s good to keep them on their toes.” For 48 years, Mr Bal­lan­tine rode his bike to school ev­ery day but was forced to stop last year due to ill health.

That ill health made him de­cide to hang up the gar­den­ing se­ca­teurs.

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