Date: 9 June 2005
Originally published in: OK! (UK)
There couldn’t have been a nicer spot amid the hustle and bustle of the Chelsea Flower Show to sit down for a moment for a chat. And the Countess of Wessex looked like she could have stayed there all dayas she relaxed outside a thatched country pub in a beer garden surrounded by rambling roses and fragrant wildflowers. By her side in the Chelsea Pensioner’s Garden was 88-year-old WWII veteran Wally Offord, sipping a pint of Spitfire bitter.
Designed by Julian Dowle to conjure up a soldier’s dream of Blighty, it was the first time the Chelsea Pensioners had their own garden at the sell-out show. “The Countess liked the garden and she said it was very pretty. And I think so, too,” said Wally.
And so did the judges – with the Pensioner’s garden scooping the coveted Best in Show award.
Sophie seemed in good spirits despite her obvious worry over he mother Mary’s illness. She had spent the previous days by Mary’s side as she recovered from an operation to remove a tumour from her colon.
The Countess was accompanied to the Chelsea Flower show by her husband, the Earl of Wessex, and by the Duke of York. Princess Anne also toured the gardens and launched a new rose for charity.
Another charity rose was unveiled by TV’s Gloria Hunniford in memory of her late, beloved daughter Caron. And the late Sir John Mill’s three children Hayley, Juliette and Jonathan wiped tears from their eyes as they launched one named afther the much-loved actor.
Other famous faces who enjoyed the show were Sir Michael Caine and his wife Shakira, Ringo Starr, Kim Wilde, who won a prize for her garden, Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster.