Gardener finds cold comfort in employer's will

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The Independent Online
A gardener who worked for seven years without pay for a wealthy widow who promised she would leave everything to him in her will, but who changed her mind before she died, lost his claim in the High Court yesterday.

Bob Taylor, 57, had been expecting to inherit a pounds 250,000 home with large gardens in Crowthorne, Berkshire, when Gertrude Parker passed away last year.

Instead, he received a cheque for pounds 1,000 and discovered that the bulk of Mrs Parker's estate had been left to one of her carers, Margaret Bosher. But a High Court judge ruled yesterday that there was no law forcing anyone to keep a promise and "nothing unfair, unjust or morally objectionable to Mrs Parker's change of will in 1995". "What could be criticised," he said, "was not telling Mr Taylor at the time when he was working without pay."

Mrs Parker had made him the promise in 1988 and in 1991 after she became concerned about what would happen to her home and her two cats when she died. Mr Taylor, who worked in the gardens of Heatherdene for 21 years, was so grateful that he did not ask for payment for the work in the garden or for the increasing number of odd jobs he carried out for her. But Mrs Parker grew worried about Mr Taylor's work in the garden. So she changed her will, but said that she was too "frightened of a confrontation" to tell Mr Taylor, and "took the coward's way out".

Asked if he felt any bitterness towards Mrs Parker, he replied, "No, I loved the lady ... I am just sorry it has gone this way."