Millionaire Keith Owens had one wish when he passed away in 2007: to sustain the ambiance and way of life in the English town of Sidmouth, Devon.
In an unassuming town in England, more than 100,000 daffodils have begun blooming again, as they have each spring since they were first planted several years ago. The beautiful flowers are part of a generous gift from Keith Owens, a Canadian millionaire who planned to settle down in Sidmouth, Devon, located in the southwest of the country. Owens, an immensely successful banker, left his life savings of £2.3 million (approximately $3 million) to a local voluntary conservation society in the area. The Sidmouth Civic Society used part of his donation to plant 153,000 flowers, including snowdrops, daffodils and crocus bulbs, Good News Network reports.
Daffodils in Sidmouth part of 1000's planted as a dying wish of Keith Owen who left his fortune to plant a million. pic.twitter.com/SD9fpSnBBr— Laura Tobin (@Lauratobin1) March 15, 2016
Owens first contacted the Sid Vale Association. According to the conservation society, he wanted his savings to "support local projects, which made use of voluntary labor, and in particular to sustain the ambiance and way of life, recognized in Sidmouth and its surroundings." As per the millionaire's request, £166,000 from his savings was used to plant beautiful flowers across over 50 sites in the area. The daffodils, in particular, are currently in bloom. Ed Harrison of the Sidmouth Civic Society shared, "Every year it brings back happy memories of this man who did this amazing thing for the town."
The daffodils were planted on Peak Hill in Sidmouth, where visitors and residents alike can stop by to take on the sights and click a few breathtaking photos. Indeed, the region of Sidmouth refers to the site as the "Valley of a Million Bulbs." Every year, the whole community comes together to honor Owens's legacy. A website for Sidmouth states, "In the autumn months, schools, community groups, and other volunteers come together to plant one million bulbs throughout the town, which then blanket the area in beautiful, colorful flowers once the weather gets warmer. Popular places to see the bulbs as they flower are at Peak Hill and the Byes."
"News of the Valley of a Million Bulbs has spread worldwide and the daffodils have become a major tourist attraction for the town," it adds. "You can find maps of where the bulbs have been planted online at the Sid Vale Association’s Website." The website also thanks Owens for his generous donation. The Canadian millionaire died on December 3, 2007, in Victoria Hospital in Sidmouth. This was the same year that he discovered he was terminally ill with only months left to live. He was born in 1938 in nearby Totnes, and went to school at Montpelier Preparatory School in Paignton. Until the mid-1950s, he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and began a career posted all over the world, living in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Canada. He retired in the seventies and spent much of his retirement traveling, regularly visiting Sidmouth to visit his mother who lived in the town.