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Richie the Ranger celebrates 50 years of promoting great green spaces in Liverpool

10 months ago

Richie the Ranger celebrates 50 years of promoting great green spaces in Liverpool
Richie the Ranger celebrates 50 years of promoting great green spaces in Liverpool

Richie says he owes it all to his dad who inspired his love of nature and creating gorgeous gardens.

It ‘seems like only yesterday’ Richard Baker began his work in the great outdoors of Liverpool but this year the popular parkie, well known locally as Richie the Ranger, celebrates 50 years of promoting the environment on Merseyside.

He says: “I was born down Scotland Road and in the 50s there wasn’t a single blade of grass to be seen in that area, but eventually we moved to Walton where we had a front – and a back – garden. Wow!

“My Dad was in a wheelchair as he’d had lost both his legs, and I can remember looking at the overgrown garden with him. I was only 12 years old at the time and I still remember his words, ‘with my brains and your brawn son, we can conquer this garden’.”

And they did.

He smiles: “With his wise advice, we transformed the jungle into a lovely oasis, and this led me to a love of plants and nature which stays with me till this very day.”

Richie, 68, who now lives near Halewood, began his career working for Liverpool City Council’s Parks and Gardens team in 1973.

A young Richie, whose dad inspired a love of nature
A young Richie, whose dad inspired a love of nature

“My first job was as a gardener working at St John’s Gardens in the city centre, and that year they had a theme in the city which was ‘Plant a tree in 73’.  That first year I planted dozens of trees in the city centre. These are now mature trees of course and when I see them it gives me great pleasure to think, gosh I planted them.”

Over the years Richie was involved in a host of outdoor projects, like the Garden Festival in 1984, first arriving on site with his colleagues on a cold, wet, January day the year before.

He says they were greeted by a ‘mud spattered quagmire’, but they gradually transformed it, and the festival was a huge success.

And it was a great experience for him: “It enabled me to work with people from all over the world as I helped create the international gardens such as the Japanese garden, the Indian garden, the Australian garden, and lots more. They were great days.”

Richie spent 20 years working as a gardener, before taking up his role as a park ranger.

“This was my dream job. I operated in all of Liverpool’s parks providing environmental education for schools, conducting guided walks for the public, helping to look after the nature and environment within our parks, and providing a reassuring presence for the public.

“I also began broadcasting a nature programme for BBC Radio Merseyside. This was about nature and the environment on our doorstep and is known appropriately enough as Nature Watch. It still continues and I’m proud of the fact that it’s now the longest running continuous nature programme on the BBC.

“It’s been broadcast every Saturday for 22 years and it’s still going strong.”

Early days as a park ranger
Early days as a park ranger

Richie retired from working for Liverpool City Council 10 years ago after a service of 40 years, but he wasn’t ready to give up his love of the great outdoors, or helping to encourage others to get out in the open.

He set up his own venture, still promoting the environment on Merseyside, giving talks to local groups, guided walks and, of course, ‘my Nature Watch with the BBC’. 

Richie says: “Nature, the environment, walking, and the great outdoors have been my joy and my aim is still to get folk to experience and enjoy it.

“Walking and experiencing our great environment has many advantages, it’s great for physical wellbeing, great for mental health, great from a social aspect, and a fantastic way to discover all that this amazing Merseyside has to offer.

“The covid lockdown was a horrid period but it did help us realise just how much of nature’s benefits we have on our own doorstep. With not being allowed to travel, people began to explore their own surroundings and appreciate what we have, and this has continued.

Richie now
Richie now

“We are lucky in having so much greenery, woodlands, parks, and open spaces, and I am still in the incredibly blessed position of helping folk learn about the beauty and heritage of nature and the outdoors here in good old Merseyside.

“After a walk with nature you always feel that little bit better. Like a lot of people, I have had my aches and pains but walking and the sheer joy of nature helps shake them off.”

Richie still has a packed programme of walks for people to enjoy and hundreds have taken part, he says, this year.

If you want to join them – and Richie the Ranger – just email him at 

Richie says he is grateful to all those who have supported him over half a century and says: “Here’s to the next 50 … well, I can dream can’t I?!”

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