A GARDENER will take off his boots for the last time today after 50 years of loyal service in the district.

Roger Amos, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Wednesday, took up an apprenticeship at Basildon Council after leaving school in 1960, and went on to become its longest serving employee.

Roger, of Castledon Road, Wickford, said: “I never really knew what I wanted to do when I was growing up.

“I just knew I wasn’t the office type, so when I heard about a job at the council working in the parks, it just seemed like it was the right thing to do.

“Back then, the apprenticeship took five years and the work was much more demanding as Basildon was developing as a new town, so there was a lot more to do.

“We didn’t have the technology we’re used to now and there was a lot more hard work involved.”

Roger will be honoured at a cabinet meeting next week where he will be presented with a television in recognition of his loyal service.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “Roger has been an asset to the council and I know he will be sorely missed. “It will be impossible to replace all his experience and knowledge, but his work will live on as he has played a big part in shaping the district over the years.”

Chief executive Bala Mahendran said: “We are very lucky to have had such a dedicated and conscientious member of staff. I would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him a healthy and happy retirement.”

Roger plans to spend the coming years playing golf, fishing, and a trip to Ireland is on the cards, but he said he will be popping back to see his old work mates from time to time.

He said: “If I could describe my time at the council as being one thing, I would say it was enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air and I’ve enjoyed the people and I never really thought about working anywhere else.”