Tributes to Binnie, who kept Kenilworth in bloom

Binnie Barnes at her 100th birthday party
Binnie Barnes at her 100th birthday party

A Kenilworth woman who was a prominent contributor to Kenilworth in Bloom over many years has died at the age of 102.

Binnie Barnes lived in Albion Street for much of her life and was a keen gardener and animal lover.

She was a lovely lady who will be missed by the whole town.

Cllr Dave Shilton

A former hairdresser and van driver for a car parts firm, she lived alone for a long time after the death of her mother, whom she was devoted to.

Mrs Barnes regularly arranged hanging baskets outside her home when competing in the annual Kenilworth in Bloom gardening competition, and her displays were so consistently good that she won awards every year in the frontage category since 2000, resulting in her being permanently awarded the trophy.

Cllr Dave Shilton, president of Kenilworth in Bloom, had fond memories of her.

He said: “She was an absolutely lovely lady who will be missed by the whole town, and I will remember her most for her wonderful smile and her hanging basket displays.

“She always won an award for Kenilworth in Bloom with her hanging baskets - they were always a delight to see.

“Everyone would stop their car on their way past her house to look at them.

“Because she won so many times we gave her the trophy to keep for good.”

Mrs Barnes loved animals, and cared for many rescue cats and dogs during her life. The dogs she looked after could often be seen at her side when she walked through Abbey Fields and the town centre.

Mary Caswell, a friend of Mrs Barnes for almost 40 years, used to work for Cats Protection and described how they bonded over a mutual love of animals.

She said: “We instantly had something in common. She would always see me every Friday for coffee and she loved to come because of the cats living under my roof.

“I think people will remember her most for her independence and her love of animals.”

Mrs Barnes remained physically active well into her nineties, and would often be seen with her trolley in the town talking to her many friends and acquaintances along the way.

However, around three years ago she moved to the Kenilworth Grange care home due to her failing eyesight.

Andy Jones, the owner of Town and Country Furniture Shop, helped look after Mrs Barnes during this time as she would often visit the shop and he felt compelled to help her.

He said: “She was fiercely independent and quite a character - she survived in her house on Albion Street without central heating.

“After she went into a care home, she told me she should have gone into care ages ago because she realised she liked being looked after.”

She turned 100 years old in February 2013 and received a card from the Queen.

Christine Rhodes, the neighbour of Mrs Barnes, said: “Throughout the time I knew her she was a very feisty and characterful person whom it was a privilege to know.

“Her hanging baskets were quite spectacular and admired by everyone passing up and down.

“They were a lovely sight and graced Albion Street for many summers.

“She will surely be remembered by many local people.”