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Fast Feet and a Green Thumb: How Ian’s Going the Extra Mile for ellenor

When we ask 73-year-old Harvel resident Ian Carey what he does for a living, he tells us “retired”. Before grinning, and following up with a chuckle, and a caveat “– allegedly!”

It makes sense. Because it’s hard to see Ian – a ball of energy and enthusiasm, even while sat giving an interview – ever truly retiring.

Born and bred in Kent, Ian was a hearing aid practitioner for 30 years: running his own practice for patients aged from their teens up to 106. Now, Ian devotes his time not only to his greatest passions – running, gardening, and giving back to the community – but to blending all three.

“I like to keep myself busy!” Ian says, grinning. “I help local people out with their gardens – sometimes, I ask them to make a donation to a charitable cause.”

And for many years now, that charitable cause has been ellenor.

ellenor is a name I’ve known for a long, long time”, Ian says, discussing his long-standing commitment to raising funds for the charity – which provides care and support to patients and families living with life-limiting illnesses in the Kent and Bexley communities.

For a long time, Ian has been opening his heart – and his wallet – to enable ellenor’s vital work for local families. But now, he’s applying his green thumb and heart of gold to open, for ellenor, something altogether different – his garden.

Through ellenor’s Glorious Gardens program – which gives Kent and Bexley residents the chance to showcase their awe-inspiring allotments to the public to raise money for ellenor – Ian is readying the garden he’s been tending for 19 years to the interested eyes of the community. And it’s one you won’t want to miss.

Flat, and overlooking a field of wheat at its rear, Ian’s garden – reclaimed from jungle – is a sight to behold.

There are daisies, fuchsias, red and yellow broom; and blossoming lilacs in full, brilliant bloom. Not to mention roses, flowering currants, irises – and enough herbaceous plants to fill even the most decadent of spice racks.

Dive deeper, and you’ll find a beautiful two-tier fish pond. Faced with flint and overhung with a curtain of vibrant, flowing flowers, it’s walled with an array of fossils Ian’s picked up from the surrounding fields. The pond’s shimmering surface also attracts all manner of local wildlife: from frogs and toads to newts and butterflies – and even, now and then, the occasional grass snake.

When the public descend on Ian’s garden on Sunday 13 August, they won’t simply be treated to an intoxicating display of local flora and fauna. But to the culmination of Ian’s lifelong passion for gardening.

“I was born in a tied farm cottage,” he says. “A real tumble-down wreck of a place, with no electricity, heating or gas supply – and the loo was built over a disused well in the garden! What it did have, though, was an allotment – which my dad tended to with passion. He grew vegetables; and he was very keen on roses.

“I’ve loved it ever since. When I got my first house, at age 21, I started developing my own garden – and have been ever since!”

Gardening isn’t the only thing Ian’s been up to in his state of (semi) retirement, though. He’s also been nourishing his love of running to hit the pavements and hills around his local village. And soon, he’ll be donning his trainers, strapping on his Garmin watch, and stretching his legs for one of his longest runs yet – all the way to Canterbury!

That’s right – along with a select group of athletes from his local running club (the “Harvel Hash House Harriers”) Ian will be running from his home in Harvel, Meopham, all the way to Canterbury.

It’s a distance, on foot, of around 40 miles – close to one and a half marathons!

But as the ever self-deprecating Ian hastens to add, he’ll be doing it over two days (with the obligatory pub stop at the end of the first!). Nevertheless, it’s an impressive effort for a man in the 74th year of his life. And, as we point out, Ian must be fit.

“Fit?” Ian asks, beaming. “Or daft? I’m not sure!”

Ian’s Glorious Garden 

Located at St Frances Road, Harvel – will be open to the public on Sunday 13 August 2023, from 2pm to 5pm.


Well-behaved dogs are welcome, and there’ll be a plant sale – and refreshments available – on the day. Book now to secure your spot in advance or grab a ticket on the day.


To find out more about the other Glorious Gardens opening their gates for ellenor this summer – and open your own garden to do your bit for families living with life-limiting illnesses throughout Kent and Bexley – head to our website. You can also call our Supporter Care team on 01322 626 509 for more information, or reach out to Sarah (sarah.williams@ellenor.org) or Meghan (meghan.hunt@ellenor.org) for a chat.


See you there!