CARDWELL Garden Centre's owner has launched a last-minute bid to save Inverclyde's annual gardening competition in memory of his dad.

Kieran Gallagher is determined for Gardenfest to continue as his dad Eric was a founding judge and one of its biggest supporters.

The Tele revealed last week that Inverclyde Council had been forced to pull the plug on the contest because of funding cuts.

But Kieran hopes to salvage a competition on a smaller scale for disappointed gardeners this year.

He's teamed up with Tele gardening guru George Irvine to come up with a new format for the contest which could include schools and nurseries.

Garden Centre director Kieran said: “Cardwell has been supporting the Gardenfest competition for many years and I've been judging Inverclyde's gardens since my dad Eric passed away.

"I've enjoyed seeing the creativity and hard work that the entrants put into their gardens.

“It’s sad that Gardenfest has come to an end this year, although Inverclyde Council's decision to withdraw funding is understandable in the current climate.

“However, I’ll be having discussions with George Irvine, who has also been involved in the competition for many years, about the feasibility of Cardwell running a gardening competition this year.

"But because of the short timescale we have to organise it, if that were to happen it would be a scaled down version of Gardenfest.

“It’s a long shot at this late stage, but along with George we’ll do our best to see if we can put together an Inverclyde-wide gardening competition this year."

Cardwell founder Eric Gallagher sat as a judge on Gardenfest for many years along with Glasgow Garden Festival gardener Walter Gilmour and Mr Irvine.

The 76-year-old award-winning businessman passed away in August 2013 aged 76 after battling cancer.

In his lifetime Eric put Inverclyde on the map with his hugely successful centre, raised more than £150,000 for good causes and was a passionate supporter of gardening locally and nationally.

He was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Chamber of Commerce the year before he died and honoured with a rare certificate of merit from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society.

Now his son is carrying on his good community work.

Kieran said: “If a competition cannot be organised this year, we will certainly look at introducing another for next year, which we hope will keep the legacy of Gardenfest going.

“This gives George and I the chance to introduce changes to the format and classes, which we hope will include schools and nurseries in Inverclyde.”