THE funeral will be held tomorrow (Friday, January 24, 2020) of a much-loved mum and grandmother who "personified everything that made Hayes Garden World such a success".

Elizabeth Ann Hayes and her late husband, Leith, transformed the Ambleside plant nursery and its small ten-seater café into a major visitor attraction and one of the best-known garden centres in the country.

Hayes will be closed tomorrow as a mark of respect for Mrs Hayes, who died on Sunday, January 5, aged 84.

Mother to Richard and the late Monica, and grandmother to Martin and Megan, Mrs Hayes was known as Betty.

She played an active role in the family-run business, starting work in the shop - now the head office building - and working alternate weekends selling plants grown in the nursery.

As the business expanded, Mrs Hayes worked in the small café and offered decorative giftware for sale there. She thoroughly enjoyed her role as it allowed her to spend time with her family, customers and staff alike.

The year 1987 was momentous for the Hayes family as their iconic "Crystal Palace" building was opened by botanist and broadcaster David Bellamy. It established Hayes as one of the key players in the developing garden centre sector.

Mr and Mrs Hayes were well-known figures in the garden centre industry. They travelled internationally to conferences and events, bringing back rare plants and trees that continue to flourish at Hayes today.

One of their proudest moments came in 1992 when their years of hard work culminated in the accolade of Garden Centre of the Year.

Sadly, a few months later, Mrs Hayes' beloved husband Leith died. In October 1993 she was delighted to see her son, Richard, take the helm, and was proud to see how he and the management team continued to drive the business forward.

Although Mrs Hayes stepped back from the day-to-day running of Hayes Garden World in recent years, she remained "a passionate champion of maintaining standards at the highest level".

Her funeral will be held at Mater Amabilis Catholic Church, Wansfell Road, Ambleside tomorrow at 1pm.