Ian Riches

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You may remember a few weeks ago we ran an article on the Scone Palace Walled Garden Restoration project currently being headed by Brian Cunningham. The historic palace gardens are being restored by a group of passionate volunteers who take great pride in their work.

One of the volunteers is Ian Riches. A former servant in the Royal Navy, Ian was looking for something to fill his time after retiring from service. He's no busy helping Brian and his team in the walled garden, but took some time to chat to Small City about how he likes to spend his spare time and his work past and present!

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

Ian Riches - in uniformI am retired from real work – 38 years in the Royal Navy! I thought it was important that I kept both physically and mentally active.  So in order to do that, I volunteer!  I do two mornings a week at Scone Palace working with the gardening team.  I also act as a Caseworker for SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force and Families Association) helping veterans and their families if they are having issues with life outside of the services, and I do odd jobs for the Girl Guides centre near Burrelton.  A typical session in the grounds of Scone is anything but typical!  Sometimes, it is weeding the many flowerbeds but, more often than not, it is anything but the mundane.  I have constructed dozens of tree-boxes to protect the young conifers from being eaten by deer or rabbits.  It could be painting the bridge in the Maze or planting new Rhododendrons.  It’s a great experience working with the dedicated team and provides lots of inspiration for my own garden. 

What signals the start of your weekend / days off?

When you are retired it seems that you never have any days off!  However, I served for many years in submarines where one day blends into another if you let it, so we would define the days by the food. When it comes to going out for food and drink, it's Uisge in Murthly. To relax, I love gardening or going out for a walk along the banks of the River Tay with the dog!Tuesday was Curry.  Friday, Fish and Chips, Saturday Steak.  So at home my wife and I round the week off with a nice bottle of red wine; Malbec is the current favourite!

What might people be surprised to know about you?

That I am quite a good cook and, according to my wife and family, I make the most amazing Victoria Sponge cakes!

Top of your bucket list?

I’d love to visit Vietnam and Cambodia before they get too commercial.  It’s that place in the world that was always in the news when I was young and I guess it has captured my imagination.

Worst job you’ve ever had?

I don’t think there has ever been a job that I didn’t like.  In the Navy, you get posted to a new job every 2 to 3 years.  I had one working with other nations and all three arms of the military (Navy, Army and Air Force) and it was extremely frustrating to say the least!  The politics got me down but the opportunities the job presented, living in Belgium for over 2 years, provided an element of relief!

Who or what inspires you?

I have always been inspired by my Dad.  He always believed in me and encouraged me in everything I did.  I also find the countryside absolutely inspiring.  I look out from my house at fields and woods and this morning I watched the Roe Deer playing in the wheat field.  I have really fallen in love with Perthshire and am inspired every time I go out with the dog by the beauty and diversity of the world around me.

Ian Riches - with his wifeTell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?

I spent one posting working at an MoD base on the outskirts of Bristol where I ran the entire Royal Navy Submarine Escape and Rescue equipment and systems.  I was due to fly home to Scotland on the Friday afternoon to help my local running club organise our club half marathon.  Instead, as a result of a request for assistance from the Russian navy, I led a team of experts to the east coast of Russia (Pacific ocean) and rescued 7 Russian submariners from certain death on the sea bed and was back in the UK on the Tuesday morning!  Not saying I’d really want to put them through it again but I do relive that weekend frequently as one of those moments where my team and I were right place, right time!

What’s the best part about your job?

I enjoy showing off ‘my patch’ to the many visitors to Scone Palace; its great helping them to have a better holiday particularly encouraging them to visit other places in Perthshire!

What’s in the perfect day off breakfast?

I am a creature of habit with breakfast.  Weetabix and banana, a glass of orange juice and a piece of toast with marmite!  However, I do love a full fry up on a very, very occasional basis and my favourite treat?  A pair of kippers from the west coast of Scotland

Complete this sentence; The best things in life are….

Times spent with my family.  I have been married to my wife, Aileen, for 33 years and we have three grown up children – Christopher, married to Nicola and living in Essex.  Katie getting married to Sean in September and living in Glasgow and Rebecca living and working in Dunfermline.  Seeing them and spending time with them

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