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Green-fingered Graham’s passion for PR

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5 JAN

Green-fingered Graham’s passion for PR

By timesecholife on in All News, Uttoxeter news

A BUSINESSMAN who turned a passion for gardening into a career spanning more than 40 years, has moved his company base to Uttoxeter.

After 30 years working from an office in Derby, Paskett PR, which specialises in gardening, has moved entirely to remote working. And founder of the company, Graham Paskett, is now operating from Heath House Uttoxeter – to avoid the distractions offered by his garden.

Like many people, Graham, aged 74, began home-working at the start of the spring lockdown of 2020. Now, his team all work from home, while he is based at Heath House business centre, just over a mile from his front door.

Graham said: “Our offices in Derby were closed in spring last year and we were able to react quickly – we just went and collected our stuff then worked from home. It worked well, with software such as Zoom allowing us to work very effectively and still hold client meetings and discussions.

“I miss sitting down with clients and talking to people, but when the lockdown came to an end, my team were reluctant to return to the office, so I closed it down and now we all work remotely. I don’t like working from home because, being a gardener, I suddenly find myself outside when I’m supposed to be at my computer. I found Heath House and it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s allowed me to work much closer to home and I’m grateful for that.”

Starting out as an apprentice newspaper journalist in Coventry and later in Sheffield, Graham met his wife Jennie, while they were both studying for their National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) qualification. Graham moved into PR in 1970 after taking a job at an oil company based in Stoke-on-Trent. The couple moved to Calton and in 1976, Graham launched his own agency, Paskett PR, initially working with clients in a variety of sectors, including a number of high-profile food-business clients such as Homepride, Thornton’s and Kerrygold.

In 1986, the couple moved to Uttoxeter where Jennie would later become editor of the Uttoxeter Advertiser. Graham said: “I’ve always been a manic gardener – very keen – then 30 years ago I was approached be someone to handle a major lawn mower account. We won the account and that started it all off. Slowly we began to specialise in gardening and horticulture and now that is 100 per cent of the business. We work with around a dozen brands and have managed many product launches over the years with celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Alan Titchmarsh and Judi Dench.

“In 2018 we won Marketing Campaign of the Year at Derbyshire Business Awards for a client campaign centred around the concept of a Memory Tree.”

Now the longest-established specialist gardening PR firm in the UK, Paskett PR recently won work with major garden equipment companies ATCO, Mountfield and Stiga. Graham added: “It is going to be a very exciting time as there are significant and very fascinating developments across all three brands. Mountfield is the UK’s largest producer of petrol-powered lawnmowers and ATCO one of the oldest names in the business.

“Stiga UK owns the two brands and has invested heavily in them both and in its own existing range of lawnmowers and hand-held powered gardening tools. For our clients, lockdown has had some benefits as 3 million more people have come to gardening during 2020. If we can keep 20-30% of those new gardeners, that will significantly increase the market base which is good news for everyone.

“Gardening is healthy, it gets you outside and you can do it whether you have an acre of garden or a windowsill. I think the environment is probably the single largest change that’s happened in my career in gardening – everybody is adapting to sustainable approaches, from packaging to recycling and going peat-free. We did the launch for the first ever battery powered kit 25 years ago. Now the technology has developed even further and they are brilliant – it’s the future.”

As well as his work, Graham is a keen salmon fisher, writes the Grumpy Gardener blog and is working on his second novel. His first, Findo’s Mousetrap, is a science-fiction tale inspired by stone tape theory and featuring a trans-Atlantic love story. It is available to buy at amazon.co.uk.

Graham and Jennie have been married for 53 years and have two grown-up children and a granddaughter, Annabel, who recently appeared in The Sun as part of a campaign encouraging youngsters to plant acorns. Graham said: “In 2013, Jennie and I were out walking with our son, his wife and Annabel, who was around two at the time. She put two acorns in my pocket and we planted them in the garden.

“One of them is nearly 15ft tall now, so when I was chatting to the gardening editor of The Sun and he mentioned his new campaign, I sent him a photo of Annabel with the little oak tree to try and encourage other young people to plant trees.

“It’s been a great career and we’ve had some fantastic stories and worked with some brilliant people over the years. I’m looking forward to what 2021 brings and I’ve got plans in the pipeline for this spring.”

To find out more, or read the Grumpy Gardener blog, visit www.paskettpr.co.uk.

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