A SUCCESSFUL horticulturalist has returned to his former college as a member of staff.

Ross Weightman, 46, from Easington Village, is a former student of East Durham College’s Houghall Campus in Durham.

Aged 16, he began what was to be a lifelong career in horticulture at the college, moving on to higher education at Pershaw College of Horticulture, before working in garden centres and nurseries all over the country, as well as in the biggest Azalea nursery in the southern hemisphere while on a gap year in Australia.

He later started his own business outside Easington Village, where he worked for 18 years before selling up to focus on his own family home redevelopment and freelance landscaping work.

Mr Weightman applied for the position at Houghall Campus Plant Centre after finding that early retirement wasn’t quite for him.

“I saw this position become available for 20 hours a week. I thought that it would suit me right down to the ground,” he said.

“This is where I started my horticulture career and I’m looking forward to putting something back into the college that started it all.”

He hopes to turn the plant centre into a niche centre that will stock a range of standard plants, as well as more unique plants such as hardy ferns and Hostas.

On a career in horticulture, Mr Weightman said: “It’s a hard career, but it’s also very rewarding.”