GARDENING gurus and those who like to dabble with a turnip or two will be delighted that the Autumn Show, which brings in huge crowds from across the country, will once again throw open its gates soon for the two day extravaganza.

One man particularly looking forward to putting his prize exhibits on show will be Gary Heeks from Henley-on-Thames.

He will be amongst growers from all over the country hoping to break more world records on September 28-29 at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern when colossus cabbages the size of cars, massive marrows, long leeks and incredible carrots will be a feast for the eyes once again.

Gary will be among them and grateful for being there.

Giant vegetables are helping him recover from a terrifying near death experience and he was one of five growers who smashed five Guinness World Records last year at the CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, when he became known as the ‘Celery King’ after taking the record for the heaviest celery, with his weighing in at 42kg.

Breaking a world record is a heart-stopping moment for anyone – but for Gary growing giant veg is helping him get back to full health again after suffering five cardiac arrests on his 57th birthday this year.

“I actually died on my birthday,” said Gary. “I was just sat opening my cards and I said to my wife Valerie ‘I don’t feel right’.”

He collapsed and his daughter Rachael acted quickly, giving her dad CPR for 30 minutes until paramedics arrived and he was transported to the hospital.

Since then he has been using his two allotments and two acre patch of land where he grows his giant veg – or ‘big girls’ as he calls them – to help him stay fit following his health scare.

National Allotment Week has just been held and celebrates the benefits of having an allotment, which many experts believe that beyond growing vegetables they can play an important role in both mental and physical health.

Gary is currently growing a giant marrow and red cabbage, and the latter he thinks could well bag him another world record at the Malvern Autumn Show which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29.

But the show isn’t just about big veg… it also has plenty of other attractions and it is the last food, horticulture and nostalgia show of the season.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, it regularly draws around 65,000 visitors over two days and hosts a range of inter-active features including cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, Grow to Show classes, the last major RHS Flower Show of the season and exhibitions of vintage memorabilia, activities and vehicles, and of course the giant veg show.

New for this year is the Festival hosting the Gin Show, showcasing producers from across the three counties and beyond. Celebrating everything from London Dry to quirky flavoured gins, there’ll be plenty of samples to wet the whistle, plus a People’s Choice award for the visitors’ favourite.

The RHS Flower Show has a record number of 40 nurseries competing for the coveted RHS medals with their colourful floral displays and RHS Gardening Advisors will be on hand to help with any gardening queries, from wisteria pruning to planting solutions for a shady corner.

Also there will be The Potting Shed, hosted by Three Counties favourite, the broadcaster Reg Moule, and is the ideal place to develop horticultural skills and build up confidence in the garden.

There’s also fun for all ages across the weekend, with the Family Green playing host to excellent entertainment, activities aplenty and even some giant tortoises.

The Top Dogs Arena is a spectacle of displays, commentated by broadcasting legend Peter Purves, while in the World of Animals, over 100 displays of animals of all shapes and sizes will be a firm favourite with the youngsters.

Visitors will also find hundreds of trade stands available, where they may possibly get their Christmas shopping in early, covering everything from regional food and drink to bespoke jewellery and flower and plant nurseries.

Tickets are now on sale, with prices starting at £18 in advance. New for this year is that children under 16 go free and group tickets are also available.

For more information, please visit or call 0844 811 0050.