South Tyneside family recreate giant sunflower moment which featured in Shields Gazette more than 20 years ago

A ‘growing’ family has recreated a special moment which gave them a moment in the spotlight more than 20 years ago.

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 4:55 am

Daniel Heslop, then five, was featured in the Shields Gazette in 1999 standing next to a giant sunflower which grew to a massive 109 inches.

Now, 22 years later, Daniel, 27, dad Jeff, 55, and mum Gillian, have recreated the family photo with Daniel's son Charlie, aged three.

This time, the sunflower has grown even bigger, to a whopping 120 inches – and the family were so shocked, they decided to recreate the magical moment they experience together two decades ago, this time with Charlie.

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Daniel featuring in the Gazette in 1999 and his son Charlie recreating the photo 22 years later

Jeff said: “We didn’t realise how long ago the old story was and we just so happened to dig out the paper cutting from the gazette from 1999.

"This sunflower is actually about 11 inches taller than the original one and we thought it would be great to recreate the photo with Charlie beside it, it’s even the same stool.

“When we dug the clipping out, Dan actually didn’t remember ever being in the Gazette and was amazed to see it.”

In 1999, Daniel planted the sunflower himself and was over the moon with how it turned out, this time it was Daniel’s mum, Gillian, who planted the flower and watched it surpass the predecessor.

Daniel and his son Charlie

The family have lived in Jarrow their whole life and the two photos take place in the same garden, over 20 years apart.

According to Jeff, Charlie was awestruck by the height of the sunflower and was completely dwarfed by the impressive plant.

Sunflowers are famed for their height and gigantic specimens are a often found featured in the media – perhaps most famously in the days of the Blue Peter sunflower-growing competition.

The plants usually bloom in summer and early autumn, with the peak flowering time around midsummer, depending on when the sees were planted and the weather conditions.

The original Gazette clipping featuring Daniel Heslop, in 1999.

Experts say the best time to plant sunflower seeds is in spring the spring during April or May, when the risk of frost is lower but there is still plenty of time for them to grow and flower before temperatures drop again in autumn.

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