Bersted campaigner stunned by tribute

Gez Watson with the Chinese lime tree donated in her honour
Gez Watson with the Chinese lime tree donated in her honour

CAMPAIGNER Gez Watson was stunned by a tribute to her work for Bersted.

Gez was left speechless when she found out a tree was to be planted in her honour. The kindly gesture came as she fights leukaemia.

Gez said she only became aware of the tree planting when she went outside her home on Laurel Grove to speak to fellow Bersted councillor Jim Heaton and his wife walking by.

“I then saw there were about 35 people outside on the green. They were from Arun District Council’s parking, housing, crime prevention team - all sorts.

“I couldn’t believe it and wondered what they were doing. But they all cheered when they saw me. They called me over and told me what was going on. It was a real shock and it’s a lovely tree,” Gez said.

The Chinese lime tree was a thank you from the council for the work Gez has done on the estate. She was provided with a silver spade to plant the tree.

Gez, 62, of Laurel Grove, was diagnosed in July.

As well as being on the council for years, Gez has led the residents’ group on the Trees Estate and played a major role in improving the area.

She also helped to establish the nearby Bersted Brooks local nature reserve.

Dax O’Connor, a neighbourhood housing officer at Arun, said: “Gez has been instrumental in driving forward improvements on the estate, while actively encouraging others to do the same.

“The estate has been transformed following her relentless determination to enhance the area, both socially and environmentally, for the good of all residents.”

Another of Gez’s passions is Manchester United and she was delighted to receive a letter from former player Ryan Giggs.

“I was absolutely over the moon with the letter,” she said. “It’s such a lovely letter and says how he hopes the club thinking of me will help me.

“It was fantastic to receive it and a real surprise.” The letter was organised by Mr Heaton.

Gez’s support for the club began when she came to England with her family from Australia aged five just as the Munich air crash in 1958 killed most of its first team. One of her memorable experiences was meeting Bobby Charlton and George Best at the club’s then training ground.

Best took her for a drive around in his E-Type Jaguar.

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