Zoo gardener clocks up 40 years loyal service

Dudley Zoo’s longest serving employee, Andy Palmer, has notched up a tree-mendous 40 years service as a member of the gardens team.

The 56-year-old started at the Castle Hill attraction as a gardener aged 16, just two days after leaving Ellowes Hall Secondary School in Lower Gornal.

Andy, who still lives in Lower Gornal, was surrounded by members of the gardening team when Zoo Director Derek Grove presented him with £200 in gift vouchers.

The team also planted an acer tree in a border next to the zoo’s new beach, in recognition of Andy’s achievement - the second tree Andy's had dedicated to him after a silver birch was planted near the red panda enclosure 15 years ago to mark the 25th anniversary of his employment. Speaking about the occasion, Andy said:

“I went for a job at Dudley Council in 1978, straight after leaving school on the Friday and they had nothing going. They suggested I try the zoo, so I immediately came up here and started on the Monday.

“I have fond memories of the elephants being here and have seen a few famous faces on site including Lenny Henry, Status Quo and Katherine Jenkins. Over the years it has been wonderful to see all the massive improvements and it’s great to work with such nice staff.”

Zoo director, Derek Grove, added: “It’s great when people find a job they enjoy and stay with it. The zoo has changed and adapted over the years and so has Andy’s role.

"These days keepers, maintenance staff and gardeners work much closer together to give our visitors the best experience possible.”


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