The longest serving member of Radley’s Gardens team, Kim Rogers has worked here since 1991, initially through the Shaw Trust, a charity which supports people with additional needs to find work. We started by asking him about his arrival at Radley 32 years ago.
The job came through the Shaw Trust and I had to do an initial six week period to see how I got on. A representative from the Shaw Trust would visit me regularly to make sure everything was going well. Now I work directly for Radley College. When I joined there was also an opportunity to work at a garden centre near Oxford that came up at the same time, but the job at Radley was perfect for me and it’s very close to where I live. I did work experience with the Parks & Gardens in Abingdon and I also had a job at Production Tools making items for electric fires before I worked here.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love working outside – apart from the very cold and very hot days it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job. I find pruning, especially roses and dogwood, really satisfying. I do a bit of everything, including mowing, pruning and weeding, and I learn a lot through watching my colleagues.
Away from work, where might we find you?
I had a very sad year last year, losing my older brother Stephen, so it helps that I like my job and have a good team around me, but I try to keep myself occupied outside work. I like music – 60s, classical, brass bands, rock. My dad was a collector of records so I learnt a lot from him and I’ve still got a lot of his old equipment from the 60s and 70s. Of course I’m a fan of The Deadbeat Apostles. Mike Ginger (Head Gardener) invited me to a gig at The Isis pub in Oxford – I got completely lost finding it but it was worth it, it was a great evening.
I like trains too – in 1981 I had a footplate ride on Evening Star, the last steam locomotive to be built by British Rail. We went from Didcot station – I remember having to sign a waiver form in case the train blew up, and I thought ‘what better way to go?’. My other passions are watches, aftershave and whisky! I collect whisky and like getting hold of rare bottles, but I like to enjoy them, not just keep them on a shelf. And of course, I try to keep on top of my garden at home.
What’s changed in your time here?
Pete Turner was my first Head Gardener and I’ve worked for four others since then, including Mike. He’s given me a lot more confidence in gardening. You never stop learning.
My favourite season is autumn, I love the leaves falling although it creates a lot of work! My first job when I arrived at Radley was weeding – I’ve learnt about different weeds over the years, like Herb robert which smells like aniseed and has furry stems and pink flowers. Scraping moss is another job I’ve done over the years and leaf blowing – at least leaf blowing on the cold days keeps you moving.
What’s your favourite part of the campus?
The Mansion – I’ve been down in the JCR but I’d like to go up to the roof one day. I’ve been there at night and it can be a bit spooky. I remember Queen’s Court being built – and I remember the old Barker Gym when it had a corrugated iron roof before it was pulled down and refurbished. Our original Gardens shed was down by the Laundry and when I joined we just had two Westwood tractors and two trailers.
What makes Radley a special place to work?
I’m lucky to have a brilliant boss in Mike, we have a good laugh and he has given me back a lot of my confidence. In the team we have eleven in all and we get on very well, they’ve been very supportive over the last year. Sarah Ballard was a great help to me a few years ago when she sorted out a tax issue I had, I was so grateful to her.