By Jamie Furness
Year 6 students from Forest Lake State School and Grand Avenue State School were treated to free flower gifts at their graduation in December, gifted by local florist Forest Flowers.
Business owner Gwen Neuendorf and her husband, who together own Forest Flowers, attended the Forest Lake State School primary graduation ceremony. on Monday December 5.
Gwen has lived in Forest Lake since 2007, and previously lived in Inala with her family since 1984.
“We donated to the school a rose for each of the [Forest Lake State School] students for the students to give to their parent or carer who got them through to their graduation year, to say thank you,” she said.
Forest Flowers also donated 200 flowers to Grand Avenue State School for their graduation ceremony on Thursday 8 December.
“Grand Avenue State School purchased a number of flowers for their graduate students, and we also matched them by donating the same amount,” Gwen said.
“They actually give their students a rose each for graduation, and we did the same as what we did for Forest Lake and gave them a rose each to give to their parent or carer.
“We also supplied one for all the coordinators that made it possible for the graduation to happen.”
Gwen wished to pass on her congratulations to the graduating students in the Forest Lake area.
“Congratulations – you’ve worked hard to get this far with the support of your carers and parents.
“Keep going – life has many challenges, but hang in there and you’ll get to where you want to be.”
Forest Flowers has been running for 30 years in Forest Lake. It was originally at the Forest Lake Shopping Centre and was moved to its current location on Joseph Banks Avenue last year.
The previous owners decided to sell last July, and Gwen, who is also a funeral director and nurse, thought taking on a job as a florist would be a nice retirement hobby.
“Well, it turns out to be more than a hobby,” she said. “I had to put my nursing on hold and work full time – it’s very long hours, having to go to markets and making sure we get the best quality flowers for people.”
Gwen said one challenge Forest Flowers is facing at the moment is that people don’t have a lot of money or are scared to spend their money on luxuries like flowers with rates increasing, and they have lowered their prices to help with this.
They have also been helping people out who have lost their jobs by putting a variety of handmade things for sale in their shop, to help them make some extra money.
“We try to use this shop as an outreach,” she said.
“When Forest Lake first became Forest Lake, it was really a community. We’re trying to bring that spirit back … We are a community, and we need to be there for each other, especially in these times.”
Forest Flowers sell not only flowers, but plants, balloons, teddies, silk flowers, chocolates, and more. They offer prices to suit peoples budgets based on what they can afford, and also have a rewards card system for returning customers.