The lady behind the flowers - Lindfield Stories

Many in the village go past the pond on a regular basis but, since Christmas, there has been a change on the landscape. Sadly, Lindfield has lost one of its flower shops. David Tingley went to meet the popular florist Khee Joon Kenneway to find out her story…

Khee Joon’s story is one that begins in Singapore. One of eight children she was brought up in the little known area of Geylang, where she stayed until she met George, now her husband, while he was working there in the late 60s.

So Khee Joon (known as K J) had her first taste of Britain when they married and she came over in 1971. They owned a house in Aldershot, near Guildford, convenient for where George worked at the time. For the duration of the 80s the pair and 2 sons moved away to Singapore, living in the town of Clementi, when George’s work as a marine engineer lecturer took them there. Then, in 1989, they moved back to UK with their three children. This time, with a job move for George, a colleague recommended looking around the Haywards Heath area for easy commuting. They took the advice and K J began her love affair with Lindfield!

Was moving from a country with tropical temperatures all year round to England’s rather more fragile UK weather system a difficult choice? “Not for me,” Khee Joon said. As we sit in her conservatory with the rain pouring down the glass, she simply says: “If it’s raining, I try not to go out! England has always been good for me. I have felt so welcome here since the beginning and have formed many amazing friendships with Brits and others in a similar situation to me.”

Within three days of moving to Lindfield she managed to get herself a job at Flowercraft on Lewes Road. K J had worked as a florist in Clementi and this seemed a good fit for her skills. She developed a great relationship with the then-owners and founders Eileen & Mike Giles and, at the same time, she studied floristry at Plumpton College in order to learn and adjust to European styles of floral arrangements. After five years K J moved to work at Plantscene on Sussex Road in Haywards Heath, which she clearly enjoyed: “I learnt so much there about business and professionalism. It really opened my eyes.”

Read full article on pages 28 and 29.