Park memorial for man who helped princess

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A man who was called on by a princess to save her ailing bonsai tree has been remembered with a memorial bench.

Friends of Broadfield Park gathered at the park on Saturday (April 25) to pay tribute to their former chairman Ray Ward.

jpco 26-3-14 Bonsai tree hobbyist Ray Ward in his garden in Broadfield, Crawley. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140320-124704001

jpco 26-3-14 Bonsai tree hobbyist Ray Ward in his garden in Broadfield, Crawley. (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140320-124704001

Mr Ward, of Broadfield, died on October 15 2014, leaving a legacy of service to the community which included roles as school governor, chairman of Friends of Broadfield Park and vice-chairman of Friends of British Bonsai Societies (FOBBS).

It was his work with the tiny trees which brought him to the attention of Princess Michael of Kent, who was having problems with one of hers.

Alan Quirk, of Broadfield, is secretary of the group of 15 volunteers who look after the garden.

He said: “We are quite thrilled about it because the bench came from donations from the family and other people who knew Ray.

“The park is a kind of gem that people are not aware of in Broadfield.

“You can sit there and overlook the lake and it’s calm.

“It’s an oasis in quite a desert in some ways.”

The group has been running for around four years.

Alan said volunteers who live near the park carry out small gardening jobs to maintain its appearance every other day.

The Mayor of Crawley, Cllr Brenda Smith, attended the event.

Ray was a governor at Seymour School, a former captain of Cottesmore Golf Club and played for the Grattons and Crawley Town Bowls Club.

He represented the FOBBs on a trip to China where he gave a televised speech.