Local Face: Philippa Kearney

  |  Published: Oct 1st 2010
Philippa Kearney

Born in Tanzania and raised in Kenya, Philippa completed her schooling in the UK before starting in retailing as a perfumery buyer with Bourne & Hollingsworth, a leading department store in Oxford Street – long gone, but not forgotten, by those of a certain age! Her parents continued to live and work in the coffee industry in Kenya and she returned there in 1977 with Tom to marry at Limuru, near Nairobi.

They lived in London for a short while before moving to Wendover in 1979 and have lived in the same house in St Anne’s Close ever since. Tom had lived in Bucks for many years but although it was completely new territory for Philippa she joined the congregation of St Mary’s and soon found herself embroiled in village life. Catherine and Emily were both born at Princess Mary’s Hospital, RAF Halton and they both attended John Hampden and Wendover Middle Schools, during which time Philippa found herself lending a helping hand in many of the Schools’ extra mural activities, such as designing and making School Play costumes and all the other things that Mums do! She also became an active member of the Planning Committee on Wendover Parish Council, and among many issues found herself involved in Tree Preservation and the Princess Mary’s site Housing Public Enquiry. Philippa’s overriding interest in things floral first showed itself at St Mary’s in 1990 when she and Sarah Nicholson developed a willing and creative team of Flower Ladies, and that team ethos has survived successfully to this day. Tom well remembers the day when the interest showed itself again in a more dramatic way. Driving down the High Street they noticed that the butcher’s shop was closing. “That site’s ideal for a flower shop,” she said. “I suppose it is,” said Tom – not realising for one moment what she had in mind!

And so, in October 2002, with no floral training whatsoever, Philippa abandoned the security of a well paid job to pursue her (well hidden) dream and the Flower Gallery was born. “It was all a bit terrifying” she recalls “but fortunately I didn’t really seem to have time to worry about it!”. Eight years down the track the dream continues to grow from strength to strength and she still enjoys the different challenges every day brings. For instance she has much enjoyed following the evolution of family units - from school courtship to proposal and thereafter from marriage to children. And sooner rather than later these children will be buying flowers for their Mums! Catherine came on board a couple of years ago so the Flower Gallery has now become a family unit too. Tom completes the shop family as unpaid blue van delivery man!

Tom also instigated and runs the shop’s website: www.wendoverflowers.co.uk and fingers are crossed for the success of Online Shopping which is due to be unveiled very soon. The internet has undoubtedly become an effective member of the team considering that it had hardly been heard of when the shop opened.

Philippa has joined a number of our High Street retailers on the Chamber of Trade and Commerce as they put their combined knowledge and experience to good use in ensuring that Wendover continues to thrive as a community.

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