A MAN who raised thousands of pounds for charity while inspiring hundreds of visitors with his beautiful Somerset garden over the last 40 years has passed away, aged 99.

Frederick Henry Clarkson, was born on May 15, 1918, and died on January 26 in Musgrove Park Hospital, just a months short of his 100th birthday.

Fred grew up as a well-respected member of the Teesdale farming community before joining Glaxo’s Barnard Castle Factory in County Durham in 1947.

He remained with the company for the next 34 years, retiring in 1980 and moving to Chardstock with his wife Mildred.

The pair began working on a huge horticultural project, transforming a three-acre paddock into a stunning garden.

However, a year after moving, Mildred died suddenly.

Rob Richardson, one of Fred’s two grandchildren, said: “Fred continued his grand gardening project and, thankfully, life took a turn for the better when Fred met Denise.

“The couple married in 1986 and so began the next happy phase of Fred’s life. Denise shared Fred’s deep passion for horticulture and his ambition to create a stunning space.

“Over the next three decades their tireless teamwork and determination resulted in the creation of a quite remarkable garden.”

As part of the prestigious National Garden Scheme, their land was open to the public on a number of weekends a year, attracting hundreds of admiring visitors who often arrived by the coachload.

Rob added: “Through donations and cream tea sales, Fred and Denise raised many thousands of pounds for charity.

“This good work was recognised in 2006 when they both attended a garden party hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.”

As well as a passion for gardening, Fred was a stalwart of the local community.

He founded Chardstock Amateur Dramatics Society, was chairman and president of the gardening club, president of the village hall and found time to be church warden.

His grandson said: “Fred was a relentlessly curious and forward-thinking man, who throughout his life always had a firm grasp of current affairs and latest innovations.

“He was a proud and longstanding Freemason and held high office within the society in both Durham and Devon.

“He was also a great admirer of steam locomotives, donating to, and visiting many times, the Stainmore Heritage Railway in Cumbria.”

He is survived by his wife Denise, daughter Janet, grandchildren Victoria and Robert, and great-grandchildren Sam, Will and Georgia.