After 31 years spent look-ing after the city's green spaces and countryside, Birmingham's parks and leisure chief has decided to call it a day.

Geoff Cole was assistant director for parks sports and events in the city and has been in the business of building and maintaining the parks and countryside for 42 years. Despite spending many hours enjoying the city's greenest corners, Mr Cole said the thing he would really miss was his colleagues.

"I will miss the people I work with; they have become like family to me over the last 31 years. I've been able to work with some wonderful people, colleagues and council-lors," he said.

During his time with the council Mr Cole has been responsible for many of the events that have been staged in the city including the highly successful Birmingham Remembers campaign celebrating the 60th anniversary of VJ and VE day, and the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Mr Cole said: "One of the best bits of the job has been my role in the redevelopment of Birmingham city centre, and the creation of open spaces there - its been ever so exciting.

"I think one of the most rewarding parts has been working with communities in deprived neighbourhoods to build them local parks. It's been great because they really do want to make their area nicer."

But the job hasn't always been so pleasant.

"The worst bit has been when I've had to deal with tragedies, like when a tree has fallen and killed a young child, or when someone has drowned in one of the pools," he said. "These things are rare but often stay with you more than the good things."

Mr Cole started his career in 1964 with a four-year apprenticeship in his home town of Bedworth before going on to study horticulture at Kew Gardens for three years. He then worked for Plymouth and Torbay councils before coming to Birmingham.

Mr Cole joined the council parks service in 1975 as a senior horticultural officer, then in 1988 he was selected to head-up the parks and nature conservation division which he did for almost 20 years before taking on responsibility for the council's events programme.

Mr Cole celebrated his retirement with an office party and is now looking forward to having the time to pursue other interests including being a part of a strategic planning committee which decides where to plant new trees in the city.