Visitors to what is often referred to as Watford’s best kept secret will be able to enjoy two rosebushes that hold a special meaning to the family of a gifted young medical student who died almost 50 years ago.

Laurence Tiger wrote to Watford Borough Council at the end of last year because he wanted to honour the memory of his sister, Gillian Tiger, who died at the age of 22 from a heart and lung condition, having successfully undergone surgery for a hole in the heart as a child.

He was also keen to recognise Gartlet School, all of its former pupils and staff, and donated a second rosebush that has also been planted in Cheslyn Gardens.

The three-and-a-half acre botanical gardens are a short walk from where the private girls school was located in Nascot Wood Road until it closed in 1966.

Gillian had been “extremely happy” at Gartlet and it provided a “wonderful springboard” to the career she was pursuing in medicine when she died in August 1972.

Mr Tiger, who has known Watford since childhood and lived in South Oxhey for 25 years before moving to Sussex, chose ‘Chandos Beauty’ in tribute to his sister, a white and apricot-pink rosebush because the colours and smell reflect her “warmth and radiant being”.

The Chandos Beauty rose planted in tribute to Gillian Tiger

The 'Chandos Beauty' rose planted in tribute to Gillian Tiger

Born in London in May 1950, Gillian Simone Tiger went to Gartlet School in 1957 and passed ten ‘O’ Levels. However, the then imminent closure of the Watford school meant she continued her studies at the North London Collegiate School where she passed three ‘A’ Levels, before being accepted as a medical student at the London Hospital Medical College in Whitechapel in 1968.

Gillian was hoping to become a paediatrician - “she loved children,” her brother said, “and had that knack of understanding people’s behaviour, personality and character” – but was unable to continue her studies after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a serious condition of the heart and lungs.

Gillian Tigers musical talents saw her featured in the Watford Observer

Gillian Tiger's musical talents saw her featured in the Watford Observer

Gillian’s talents extended beyond her chosen career. She was artistic and musical, winning many prizes for drama, verse speaking and piano playing, and learned to play the classical guitar.

Even when she was confined to bed due to her illness, she taught herself to draw, paint and took correspondence courses in German, typing and shorthand.

Dr Ernest Rathenau, who was a good family friend, wrote after Gillian’s death: “Of all the people I met during my long life, Gillian had the loveliest, most enchanting smile. When she saw a friend, a gleam of joy spread over her face. She radiated kindness and serenity. Everybody was devoted to her. The recollection of her being, graceful and tender, survives her death”.

Proper Job is the rose Laurence Tiger donated in recognition of Gartlet School

'Proper Job' is the rose Laurence Tiger donated in recognition of Gartlet School

Planted close to ‘Chandos Beauty’ at Cheslyn is ‘Proper Job’, a rosebush with dark crimson blooms.

Mr Tiger described it as “between an English and Renaissance variety, a rather Victorian type and I thought this would suit the school perfectly”.

Explaining why he wanted to commemorate the school, Mr Tiger said: “There are generations of young people going right the way back to Victorian times and there is not a single plaque, nothing to honour the memory of the school I’m aware of.

“The thought was if there were ex-pupils, who would now be in their 70s, in and around Watford who would like to take a visit to Cheslyn, which is a gem of a garden, how nice that would be.”

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