RETIRED opera singer Maureen Morelle is used to being the star of the show.
The 78-year-old has performed with the country’s biggest opera companies with roles in The Barber of Seville and Così fan tutte.
But her hobby of gardening is what has put her back in the spotlight.
Despite suffering from crippling arthritis and overcoming cancer she makes sure her garden is beautiful enough to open to the public for charity.
And her dedication has won her a Gardening Against The Odds award.
Miss Morelle, of Elderfield Close, Emsworth, was nominated by her daughter Lucy Watson. She said: ‘At the age of 78 my mother opened her garden for the first time this year for the National Gardens Scheme.
‘In the last seven years she has overcome a life-threatening cancer and crippling arthritis but still manages to create a beautiful garden, full of interest.
‘She subjects herself to painful steroid injections in her hands to enable to her to prepare the garden for summer, before succumbing to the pain again afterwards.
‘Her garden is a Mediterranean garden with timber sleepers and gravel, all surrounded by lusciously planted borders.
‘She has a lot of sculpture and Cretan pots which are filled with a plethora of summer bedding, all perfectly displayed amongst the borders and in the gravel.
‘It is a lovely haven for her to sit in at times she is not well enough to physically garden.’
Miss Morelle has no intention of stopping yet.
She said: ‘I’ve always had a passion for gardening, it comes from my mother and father.
‘It’s in the family. I used to live in Haslemere and I had a large garden that I designed with lots of different areas.
‘When I moved to Emsworth, by the sea, I thought it would be nice to have a dry garden and really wanted to reduce my workload.
‘But I’ll keep going as long as my hands allow me, they are a bit of a problem. As long as I rest after doing some work I can manage.’
The awards were set up by The Conservation Foundation.
Director David Shreeve said: ‘It is heartening to see how odds of all kinds are no excuse for so many people who simply get on, get at it and get so much out of their gardens.’