A determined Peterborough woman has overcome the odds to achieve success in a gardening contest and now wants to inspire others to go green.
Niki Preston (45), who was born with two fingers on her right hand and a shortened left arm, only took up gardening three years ago after moving to a new home in Elmore Road, Peterborough.
After setting her heart on transforming its large back garden, Niki set to work - using child-size tools and customising equipment.
Now she is celebrating after finishing as a national runner-up and a regional winner for the Midlands in the prestigious Gardening Against the Odds contest, which gave her the chance to meet two of her gardening heroes.
Niki said: “The awards ceremony was held in Syon Park in London and I got to meet Alan Titchmarsh, who was a speaker and David Bellamy, who was one of the judges.
“My mother-in-law nominated me and it all happened from there, it was an incredible experience.”
David Shreeve, a judge in the contest, said: “It is heartening to see how odds of all kinds are no excuse for so many people.”
Niki, who writes for a gardening magazine and also pens a blog about her horticultural experiences, added: “I just get on with my life and I’ve never let anything hold me back, but gardening posed a few difficulties for me,” she added.
“I have to use child-sized tools and gloves for digging and planting.
“I used to leave all the pruning to my husband, but then I found some cordless electric secateurs.
“When deadheading flowers, most people pinch the heads off with their fingers. As I don’t have many fingers, I use a tiny pair of deadheading snippers, which have a spring action so that they open by themselves
“Because hose pipes and watering cans are too difficult for me to use, I invented a new watering system. I put a garden sprayer into a trolley and it pull it around with me.”
Niki has already planted a herb garden and vegetable patch to get her garden ready for spring.
She added: “I hope my efforts will help other people who may not be very mobile to give gardening a try.”
To find out more about Niki visit her blog at www.nikipreston.com.