Mary Portas saves Highgate garden designer after tools stolen in burglary

Mary Portas’s garden designer has thanked the “queen of shops” for rescuing her business after £5,000 of tools were stolen in a burglary.

Highgate gardener Joan Scanlon lost her most expensive equipment when the garage she used to store her tools was ransacked by thieves just before Christmas.

On hearing the plight of her “dear friend”, Primrose Hill resident Ms Portas used her industry influence to successfully persuade top brands to replace Ms Scanlon’s collection, free of charge.

Ms Scanlon, 57, who runs gardening maintenance company Town Gardens from her Bisham Gardens home, said: “She transformed what was going to be a wretched and miserable Christmas and an extremely difficult year into something where I was walking on air.”

She added: “It would have been a terrible blow to the business.

“It would have been impossible and taken years to get everything back.

“I thought I would have to get a lodger or take out a loan.”

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Ms Scanlon was first alerted to the burglary when she received a call from the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, the garage’s owner, telling her that the door was open.

She rushed over but when she arrived, her expensive collection of tools and equipment had been cleared out by opportunistic thieves.

Ms Scanlon, who maintains Ms Portas’s garden after designing it two years ago, said: “It was a gardener’s sweetshop.

“I used to open the door and it would make me smile.”

Ms Scanlon believes she accidentally opened the remote-controlled garage door from her home, allowing thieves free access to her equipment.

There was no sign of forced entry.

When Ms Scanlon told Ms Portas about the burglary while tending to her garden later that afternoon, the TV star pledged to help the designer re-stock her collection.

With just a few phone calls, top brands Spear and Jackson, Burgon&Ball, Bulldog Tools, Homebase and Gayways Ltd offered to replace Ms Scanlon’s equipment within 48 hours.

All Ms Portas asked Ms Scanlon for in return was to pose for a picture with her and the donated tools to post on Twitter.

Ms Portas tweeted: “My dear friend Joan is back in action!”