Tributes paid to popular nursery centre owner

Trevor Hill Mercer
Trevor Hill Mercer

TREVOR Hill Mercer, the familiar face of Hillmount Nursery Centre for more than 70 years, has passed peacefully away at the age of 82.

Suppliers, customers, staff and family of the late Mr Mercer have paid tribute to the driving force behind the family business and a book of condolence has already been filled at Hillmount.

Trevor has been described by those who knew him as a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He was also charming, reliable and generous. Always making time for the customers at Hillmount and, as man of action, he often took it upon himself to do thoughtful and practical things to help others.

Trevor loved his daily routine at the shop and was very proud of all that he and his family have achieved at Hillmount Nursery Centre.

Born in Hillhall on the 4th of August 1930, Trevor and his parents moved to Lomond Avenue where his mother ran a grocery shop. In 1940, his father bought a small holding in the Gilnahirk Hills which was to become what we all know today as Hillmount. Trevor’s father and brother worked the land, his mother ran the shop during the day and, as it was wartime, the family evacuated to Hillmount. Trevor then attended Gilnahirk Primary School where he often took his pet white mice.

After leaving school at the age of 14 he worked in Jameson Green, The Ship Yard and SD Bells.

One night, on a significant trip to the Floral Hall, he met a young lady called Pamela Watson who became the love of his life and they got married in 1952. They moved into Hillmount Cottage which had no electric or running water.

During the 1940s and 50s more and more greenhouses were built and the nursery business began to grow. 1957 saw the start of the decoration work at Balmoral which was to become a very big business over the years and even lead to him being privileged enough to meet Her Majesty The Queen.

In 1962 Trevor took over the Hillmount business from his brother John. With the help of his wife, the late Pamela and late father Hill, long hours of hard work including growing flowers and plants, landscaping and garden maintenance for Mission Manufacturing, Shorts, JP Corry and many more, Trevor turned a small nursery into the centre it is today. He even laid the lawns for Dundonald House and maintained James Young’s garden.

Trevor and Pamela, who passed away in 1991, had one son, Robin, born in 1954. When Robin married Edith in 1975, they began to expand the business and they have three sons – Alan, David and Andrew.

When Alan was born, Pamela opened the first cafe at Hillmount known as ‘The Coffee Cabin’ and family man Trevor spent every Monday night with his grandchildren when they were growing up. He was very proud of them and inspired them all in many ways. Fourth generation Alan has now taken the reins at Hillmount.

Trevor took great pleasure in seeing his friends, staff and customers every day and he was always humble – when asked what his job was he would often reply, ‘Gopher’ – ‘go for this’ or ‘go for that’. But in reality Trevor kept everything going and his efficient routine made it look easy. He was naturally clever – shopping lists and calculations carried easily in his head. His body occasionally relaxed but his mind never did.

Although he loved the familiar, Trevor also embraced new technology including his iPhone. His pride and joy was the arrival of the first forklift and computer at Hillmount.

A man of great integrity, Trevor was a friend to many people and had morals and principles that have inspired everyone around him to become better.

In recent years he became a best friend to Brenda and beloved grandfather figure to Brenda’s children and grandchildren. In the last few months Trevor was cared for at the Ulster Hospital and found the NHS to be a fantastic service.

Working in the shop until only a few weeks, ‘Manic Mondays’ and ‘Freaky Fridays’ (as he called them) will never be the same again. His legacy should be that we all take the time to remember other people and put others before ourselves. To love and care for each other and to live full and happy lives.

Trevor was laid to rest at Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church after a Service of Thanksgiving there.