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Garden Club 'fulfils a lot of my needs' says outdoor-loving Anna

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Anna Fulton (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Anna Fulton (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Although Anna Fulton insists she “was never a natural athlete”, she never let it stop her from trying.

It’s not uncommon to see her out on the water rowing with her husband Ian.

In 2008 she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, despite having had a hip replacement a few years earlier.

At home she’s often busy in the vegetable patch she planted in the 1980s in her backyard on Store Hill in Smith’s.

“I was a good runner when I was young,” the 70-year-old said. “But I was never a natural athlete. Rowing did not come easily. It was a very steep learning curve.

“We row out of the East End Mini Yacht Club. To train we would row in Spanish Point in the morning and in Sandys in the evenings.”

Through the Bermuda Pilot Gig Club she and her husband were invited to compete in an annual regatta for people over the age of 65 in Lyme Regis, England in August, 2019. They got there only to have the event cancelled by a storm.

She is more at ease at work in her backyard although she does not consider herself a “great gardener” because she does not “have a great idea of design”.

“When we first moved into this house in the 1980s I put some plants on the back porch and came back in three hours and they were all salt burnt,” Mrs Fulton said. “I [then] planted carrots and other vegetables – I couldn’t believe it. The bugs ate everything. And then there was Hurricane Emily in 1987.”

Just when she thought she had it all sorted, her carrots and broccoli started disappearing again. It took the Fultons a little while to figure out the culprit was their own yellow Labrador retriever Toby.

“He was eating the vegetables out of the garden when we weren’t looking,” she said. “He was a terrible food thief.”

Mrs Fulton grew up in Churchill, Worcestershire, England.

“It was a hamlet really,” she said. “There were about 100 people. There was a church and nothing else. There were no shops and no public transport. It was a 20-minute train ride to Worcester.”

Her father, Stephen Haynes, worked in the steel industry, and her mother, Hazel, took care of their four children.

“My mother was brought up in the city and always wanted to be in the country,” Mrs Fulton said. “She was the one who drove our being in a cottage in the country. That was her dream. I think I got my love of gardening from her.”

Her mother loved flower arranging. Mrs Fulton vowed she would not do the same, claiming it was “for old people”, but in 2006 joined the Garden Club of Bermuda.

“In the early years I was involved with education and conservation,” she said, explaining she joined looking for gardening tips and formed many friendships there.

The club celebrates its 100th anniversary next month. According to Mrs Fulton, who served as president from 2015 to 2017, it has changed in the 14 years she has been involved. Once “associated with retired white ladies” there is now a more diverse membership.

“It fulfils a lot of my needs,” she said. “It is a great group of friends. There are opportunities that arise with a membership of a club like that. I most enjoy the environment, the outdoors and the social aspect of things.”

In 2017 she became a mentor for a gardening scheme run by the club for a small group of students from Dellwood Middle School and Northlands Primary School.

When in school, the group spends a lunch hour working on a vegetable garden on the grounds of the project’s collaborator, Government House.

“It is amazing,” Mrs Fulton said. “This particular group, they are so excited and I think they have a good comprehension of what gardening is about. It is really meaningful for them.”

Last year they were able to grow “40lbs of potatoes and a good crop of onions”. This year, because of Covid-19, the programme was only able to run for six weeks.

“It is tragic,” said Mrs Fulton, who also volunteers with the LCCA and Bermuda Riding for the Disabled.

She studied occupational therapy at Dorset House College in Oxford.

In 1973, she was getting practical experience at a hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland when she met her future husband.

“He was there in his last year of medical school,” she said.

They married on October 2, 1976. Wanting to travel they moved to Zambia where Dr Fulton gained experience in gynaecology and obstetrics.

With no jobs in occupational therapy available, Mrs Fulton worked as a teacher’s assistant in a school.

A year later they returned to England and had two children, Richard and Erica, before moving to Bermuda in 1985.

Mrs Fulton worked for Child & Adolescent Services for many years. To keep up with her ever-changing profession she went back to school in her 40s and earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

“I did it through distance learning,” she said. “I was working full-time while I was studying so it was difficult. I am not naturally academic, but I did do it.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published March 31, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 01, 2021 at 11:42 am)

Garden Club 'fulfils a lot of my needs' says outdoor-loving Anna

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