Mar 16, 2022
Thought Question: If you could do one thing to improve your community, what would you do and how would you start?
Each year, brilliant splashes of yellow burst in the hills of a coastal England town.
The daffodil blooms remind locals and tourists alike of Keith Owen – and his dying wish. The Canadian banker grew up near there. In 2007, he died of lung cancer at age 69. Owen left nearly $3 million to the 176-year-old Sid Vale Association to help preserve the beauty of the town.
“Think big,” Owen told the group. “Plant a million bulbs! Get everyone involved!”
So it did.The town started planting in 2013.
Now “The Valley of a Million Bulbs” – with its colorful flowers – draws visitors from across the globe.
Owen had returned often to Sidmouth to stroll its beaches and winding streets. He liked to admire its English gardens and seaside castles and soak in the history of a favorite summer destination of Queen Victoria’s family in the 19th century. That's where writer JRR Tolkien would later find his muse. The millionaire banker settled in Canada in 1970 after serving 20 years in the Royal Air Force.
Owen came back to spend his final days in his beloved Sidmouth.
Ed Harrison of the Sidmouth Civic Society says Owen’s legacy lives on with each flower that blooms: "Every year, it brings back happy memories of this man who did this amazing thing for the town."
Photos from Sid Vale Association.
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