Comic Katherine Ryan supports Woods of Berkhamsted campaign

Katherine Ryan joined the campaign to stop an independent garden centre closing because of competition from Waitrose

Monday, 17th February 2020, 4:48 pm
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 5:14 pm

She spoke to campaigners, residents and customers at an event at Woods of Berkhamsted Garden Centre on Thursday, February 13, to raise awareness of the importance of the garden centre.

Katherine also gathered names for a petition, calling on Waitrose to reduce its garden centre offering, which was then presented to the supermarket in St John's Wells Lane, less than 100 yards from Woods.

More than 4,000 people have already signed a petition to stop the closure of the High Street store.

Katherine with Lucky Acan, Sarah Webb and Colin Campbell-Preston from Woods. Photo by Adam Hollier

Woods Garden Centre managing director Colin Campbell-Preston said: “The support we have received from the local community and customers has been amazing and we once again call on Waitrose to reduce their garden centre offering to save Woods from closure with significant job losses.

“Woods is a proud member of the Berkhamsted community through the work we do with schools, charities, theatre groups, encouraging young and old to get involved in creating a beautiful and sustainable environment.

“However after almost 50 years we may soon cease to exist. It would be very sad for the town to lose another independent retailer.”

The issue dates back to a planning application by Waitrose in February 2013.

Katherine Ryan joins Save Woods campaign. Photo by Adam Hollier

The proposal was for a small installation of fixed horticultural units on a site area of 4.60 sq metres at the front of the Waitrose store.

Mr Campbell-Preston added: “However, Waitrose have gradually increased their offering over the years through the use of a large number of metal trolleys outside the front of the store to create what is, pretty much, a complete garden centre offering.”

A Waitrose & Partners spokesperson said: "We are sorry to hear that Woods of Berkhamsted feels this way as we've always tried to be very supportive of the local community and play our part in bringing people to the town.

"The garden centre has a fantastic range of gardening products - far wider than ours - and offers gardening expertise we don't.

Katherine Ryan joins Save Woods campaign. Photo by Adam Hollier

"We've been selling a modest range of garden plants for six years after a consultation with our neighbours and reduced our range of garden products last year after conversations with the owners."

Katherine also lent her support to Woods of Berkhamsted during filming for Channel 4's Joe Lycett's Got Your Back programme, the plight of Woods will be featured in an upcoming series.

Canadian Katherine, who hosted the recent NME awards, posed as a brand ambassador for Woods to make a spoof promotional video to be featured in the C4 programme which champions consumer rights.

Mr Campbell-Preston said: "It was a delight to host Katherine and the crew from Channel 4's Joe Lycett's Got Your Back.

"Katherine made quite an impression as a 'brand ambassador' for Woods but I can't say anymore until the programme goes out."

Woods Garden Centre is part of Capital Gardens.