'A magical place' - natural park's longest-serving staff member retires

Pensthorpe Natural Park's longest-serving staff member, Jean Moore, has retired after 35 years. 

Pensthorpe Natural Park's longest-serving staff member, Jean Moore, has retired after 35 years. - Credit: Pensthorpe

It is one of Norfolk's most loved nature reserves, and Jean Moore has been a part of it for the past 35 years.

But now Pensthorpe Natural Park's longest serving staff member has finally called it a day and retired, aged 73.

Mrs Moore, who lives in Pensthorpe village, started working on Pensthorpe Estate when it was a far cry from the reserve it is today. 

It was then a fruit farm, and Mrs Moore had a particular short journey to work.

Pensthorpe Natural Park's longest-serving staff member, Jean Moore, has retired after 35 years. 

Pensthorpe Natural Park's longest-serving staff member, Jean Moore, has retired after 35 years. - Credit: Pensthorpe

She said: “I used to hop over the fence and into the field, to pick strawberries and raspberries at 5am in the morning when the morning dew was still about.”


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A few years later Mrs Moore started working for Bill Makins, the founder of the nature reserve.

Her husband, Alan, also worked on the land with Mr Makins.

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Mrs Moore said: “I worked in the café when I first started and helped out in the gardens over the years.

“I helped with the original planting in the Wave Garden, with landscape designer Julie Toll and the head gardener at the time.

"I also helped out with keeping the Millennium Garden tidy, alongside my cleaning duties.”

Mrs Moore has been part of some memorable events in Pensthope's history, including when the hugely popular BBC television show Springwatch was based there from 2008 to 2010. 

Thanks to her work she was invited to Buckingham Palace for a garden party in 2013. She also met the well-known botanist David Bellamy and the Duke of Edinburgh when the nature reserve was officially opened in 1988. 

Mrs Moore said her love of the beautiful landscape, colourful gardens and nature and wildlife kept her happy and satisfied with her work for many years.

She said: “Once the visitors have gone and you are alone, it’s just a magical place to be.”

Mrs Moore plans to spend her retirement developing her sewing and quilt-making skills, and baking. 

Since finishing work, she said:  “I’ve done more sewing than I’ve ever done. My daughter in-law is a teacher, so I have made over 150 themed face masks, including Christmas-themed, for her school.

"I’ve also been making cushions, quilts and coasters, as Christmas gifts, so I’ve been keeping very busy."

Bill and Deb Jordan, the owners of Pensthorpe , said: “Since our arrival 18 years ago, Jean has been a very loyal, friendly, and hard-working member of the Pensthorpe team.  

"Supporting us with the Millennium Garden replanting and weeding, as well as many other unusual tasks that tend to come your way working on a nature reserve. 

"She has been a great inspiration to us all here and will be greatly missed.”

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