Great-grandmother conned by rogue traders gets free gardening

When Peggy Hopkins was duped out of £120 by gardening conmen, she lost faith in humanity.

But this was restored after a gardener offered to transform her beloved gardens for free.

David Barnes, owner of  D.D.S. Gardens Landscapes, Peggy Hopkins, 90, and her granddaughter Trudy Kirkaldie, 36, at Peggy's home in Clarence Avenue, Wick

David Barnes, owner of D.D.S. Gardens Landscapes, Peggy Hopkins, 90, and her granddaughter Trudy Kirkaldie, 36, at Peggy's home in Clarence Avenue, Wick

After the incident on Friday, June 8, her great-granddaughter, Ashleigh Charmaine, 23, posted about it on Faceboook – and David Barnes reached out to the family to offer his expertise.

At first, Peggy, 90, from Clarence Avenue, Wick, ‘could not trust anyone’ after her ordeal. But now, she said: “I feel much better about it. It seems incredible that after what happened someone like David is going to do this. It is unbelievable.”

The great-grandmother, who is registered blind and walks with a frame, answered the door to a man in a green tracksuit at around 11.45am, offering to prune her garden.

The next thing she knew, two ‘big blokes’ were in her back garden, crudely cutting down her shrubbery.

Peggy Hopkins, 90, from Clarence Avenue, Wick, was conned by fake gardeners. The two bushes they claimed to have pruned.

Peggy Hopkins, 90, from Clarence Avenue, Wick, was conned by fake gardeners. The two bushes they claimed to have pruned.

After damaging two bushes and dumping the waste behind her greenhouse, they demanded she paid them £350 – but the former Land Army girl did not have enough, so gave them £120 of her housekeeping money.

Before leaving, they gave a handwritten receipt from a company which does not exist.

Fighting back the tears, Peggy, who has lived there for 25 years, said: “I felt like I was being targeted because I’m vulnerable. I live in fear that someone else will come back.

“My message to everyone out there is please be careful, and don’t get caught like I did. It has been such an awful time for me for the last couple of weeks, but I’m hoping this will be the beginning of a new chapter.”

Peggy Hopkins, 90, from Clarence Avenue, Wick, was conned by fake gardeners. They dumped garden waste behind her greenhouse.

Peggy Hopkins, 90, from Clarence Avenue, Wick, was conned by fake gardeners. They dumped garden waste behind her greenhouse.

David Barnes, 39, from Chichester, who has been in the trade for 20 years, said the conmen were ‘absolutely disgusting’ and urged people to not let them in if they were unsure, and to report incidents to the police.

He has offered to wash Peggy’s patio, and landscape her front and back gardens.

He said: “I wanted to do this because I thought, ‘how would it feel if it was my nan?’

“I have been completely clear about it – I won’t take a penny off Peggy, but there is only one thing I have asked for – a cup of black tea.”

Peggy’s relatives reported the incident to the police, who advised them to report it to Action Fraud.

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting serial 324 of 15/06.