Hollywood costume designer gets hooked on horticulture

Former Hollywood dressmaker Sarah Chesters is now the education officer at RHS Rosemoor after decidi

Former Hollywood dressmaker Sarah Chesters is now the education officer at RHS Rosemoor after deciding to switch careers. - Credit: Archant

Rosemoor education officer tells how she made the switch from top frocks to fabulous flowers

A FORMER Hollywood dressmaker from Torrington has described how she made the switch from stitching dresses to sowing seeds.

Sarah Chesters, 53, has made costumes that were used in the Oscar winning film Reds, the original Superman movie and the stage production of The King and I on London’s West End.

But after five years in the business, Sarah began looking for a new challenge and when the Chelsea Physic Garden opened to the public in 1983 she took the opportunity to volunteer.

She said: “I started getting very disillusioned with Bond Street. I was working for one of the top companies but it all got a bit repetitive.

“Fashion to horticulture wasn’t an obvious transition but I quickly found I was hooked.”

Sarah now works at RHS Rosemoor near Torrington as the principal education officer and she also has a regular slot on BBC Radio Devon offering gardening advice.

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This week Rosemoor is running seven days of events to celebrate National Gardening Week, and on Thursday, there is a special careers day aimed at anyone considering a change of vocation.

The day will provide an opportunity to meet professionals from all areas of the horticultural industry, and the focus will be on how they have changed career paths

Sarah said: “When I changed career, I thought I was a bit of a freak for not picking something and sticking with it. But after I got in to horticulture I found that there were hundreds of people like me.”

A recent study by City & Guilds ranked florists and gardeners as the happiest workers, with 87 per cent saying they were content with their job, and Sarah said the results did not surprise her.

“A lot of people prefer to work outside – they don’t want to be cooped up in an office under electric lights looking at a computer screen,” she said.

“If you enjoy your work I think that counts for a huge amount.”

The week long programme includes talks and demonstrations on growing wildflowers, an exhibition by the North Devon bonsai society and plenty of hands on activities for children.

Full listings of the events on offer can be found online at www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or by calling RHS Rosemoor on 01805 626800.

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