Not many Henchman owners can claim they felt the earth move whilst a top their ladder, but that’s exactly what happened to retired fire station manager and pomologist (fruit expert) John Pledger.
Since retiring from the fire service, the RHS trained gardener with a City and Guilds qualification in Amenity Horticulture has been able to devote more time to his passion for growing fruit and generously sharing his expertise with others. A former head gardener at a large private estate in Torrington, he and his family have a large mixed orchard in Devon which is on a 13 degree south facing slope with uneven terrain.
John was pruning a fruit tree using his new 3m (10ft) professional Henchman platform tripod ladder in February this year when the ladder began to shake and vibrate. His wife Sheena called to him to be careful what he was doing or he’d fall off, and John half jokingly replied “I am looking at what I’m doing – but I think we’re having an earthquake!” The ladder settled after a few seconds.
His suspicions were confirmed later that night when the news reported that North Devon was indeed at the epicentre of a 4.4 magnitude earthquake!
Commented John: “In the 1980’s I was a volunteer and training officer for the International Rescue Corps, a quick response rescue group that flew off to natural disasters around the world like earthquakes to locate and save trapped people. You would think I would recognise quakes, aftershocks and tremors, I experienced enough of them, but perhaps it has been too long ago!
“That said, I am well pleased that my henchman held up well with me, a 110kg, 193cm tall lump on top of it – and on a steep slope too!”
John is a committee member of the RHS South West Fruit Group and freely gives his time to train and advise orchard groups and other organisations in fruit culture. He is an RHS fruit judge and regularly helps out at RHS and National Trust apple events.