Tributes paid to leading light behind Sheffield's Winter Garden

One of the leading lights behind the creation of Sheffield’s Winter Garden has died, aged 71.

Friday, 31st May 2019, 5:36 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st June 2019, 3:11 pm
David Howgate in Sheffield's Winter Garden, which he was in charge of when it opened

David Howgate was in charge of what would become one of the city’s most popular attractions, when it first opened in the early noughties, and was responsible for selecting and looking after the plants which filled the giant glasshouse.

He worked for the council for 28 years, rising to the rank of city centre horticultural project manager, and when the Queen officially opened the Winter Garden in 2003 it was he who showed her around.

David Howgate in Sheffield's Winter Garden, which he was in charge of when it opened

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His green fingers brightened up the city centre, with the hanging baskets and containers he brought in earning Sheffield awards for the floral displays which helped it shake off its dour post-industrial reputation.

Following his death earlier this month, David’s sister Margaret this week paid tribute to a man who she said was driven by his passion for the outdoors.

“He loved the great outdoors, from the high mountains to the lakes and glens and the paths by which he could get to them,” she said.

David Howgate with Sheffield's Winter Garden in the background

“From an early age, he developed his love of gardening, happily wielding a spade to help his dad as a young boy, and from this came a long career in horticulture.

“As the city centre horticultural project manager, he was in charge of a multi-million pound budget, and during his time in the role he was instrumental in the development of the Winter Garden, where he advised on the layout and planting.”

David grew up in Cross Gates, in east Leeds, and studied at Writtle Colege near Chelmsford, from where he graduated top of his year.

David Howgate tending to plants in Sheffield's Winter Garden

His first job was at Askham Bryan College near York, which is where he met his future wife Sylvia, to whom he was happily married until her death in 2015.

From there he joined Sheffield Council, where he worked for the rest of his career before retiring in the early noughties.

He lived in Dronfield and in his retirement put his energy into his garden and allotment.

Margaret told how besides gardening, his favourite pursuits had been cycling, walking and climbing, which he enjoyed on holidays to Scotland and the Pyrenees.

David’s family has asked for any donations in his memory to be made to St Luke’s Hospice and sent to Alfred Dunham & Son Ltd,  56 Snape Hill Lane, Dronfield S18 2LG.