Lifetime accolade for Whixley nurseryman

Mr Richardson bought the firm, located between Knaresborough and York, in 1964. (S)
Mr Richardson bought the firm, located between Knaresborough and York, in 1964. (S)

The chairman of one of Europe’s biggest commercial horticultural nursery businesses has been named as one of the first recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Yorkshire Post’s Rural Excellence Awards.

John Richardson, of Johnson’s of Whixley, received the honour at the inaugural edition of the awards, held at the Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

He was honoured alongside Roger Nicholson, whose family operate Cannon Hall Farm near Barnsley, and pioneering agronomist Dave Clark.

Mr Richardson’s achievements in the horticultural industry span well over half a century, having purchased the business with just eight full-time staff in 1964, and grown it to employ more than 100, rising to 150 seasonally.

Among them are 12 members of the Richardson family, from three generations, including John’s sons, Andrew, Graham and Iain, who take care of the day-to-day running of the business.

During the last 12 months, the company has delivered a turnover of just over £12m, representing its best ever annual performance.

Mr Richardson said: “It was a tremendous honour to be shortlisted alongside such worthy nominees, and an even greater privilege to be named as one of the inaugural winners of the Rural Excellent Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Johnsons of Whixley was founded in 1921 and supplies plants and trees to commercial landscapes, and private gardens across the UK.