Much loved Gardener retires after 43yrs

Life at Kensington Secondary School will be a little different this year, with Gardener George Ballantine retiring after 43 years.

The quietly spoken yet charming Mr Ballantine has a learning disability and joined the school originally as a 13 year old student when it was opened for children with special needs.

At 18, he became the School Gardener and never left.

Mr Ballantine says his years as a Gardener involved a lot of hard work and that it was a great day when the automatic reticulation system was installed.

“I used to have to pull a trolley full of metal pipes up a hill every day to lay them on the oval for watering. That was hard yakka, but you got bloody fit.”

Through his time he has seen a lot of staff and students come and go, but a few hold a special place in his heart.

“My first headmaster in 1973, Mr Phillips, he was a good man.

“And there was Beryl, who retired many years ago but still sends me Birthday and Christmas cards.

“I loved having a joke with the girls in the office,” he said.

“It’s good to keep them on their toes.”

Mr Ballantine rode his bike to Kensington Secondary School every day for 48 years, only stopping last year due to ill health. And it was that health that made him decide to hang up the gardening secateurs for the last time in December.

“The school gave me a lovely staff party and present,” he says, pointing at the gold clock which now proudly hangs in his kitchen.

“Another lady that was leaving got flowers, I’m glad I didn’t get flowers though… I’ve had enough of them.”