Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The Whitsundays have lost one of its most charming and compassionate community members earlier this month when Janelle Casey passed away peacefully surrounded by close friends and her much-loved husband, Phil.
Most well-known as the owner of Flower Hut, Janelle spent 20 years bringing people joy through her exceptional eye for flower design and styling.
During this time, she nurtured a close-knit team of dedicated staff who became like family to her.
Originally from Plimmerton, on the North Island of New Zealand, Janelle trained in traditional floristry at the age of 16.
She first met her husband Phil when they were just 10 years old, but fate led them in separate directions for many years.
“We didn’t meet again until 1989 when she came to my resort to have lunch with her nephew,” reminisces Phil.
“We started talking that day, but it took us about two years to get together.”
Phil said it wasn’t until 1996 that Janelle “finally decided I was worth keeping!” and they were married.
Together, the couple embarked on many adventures, most notably sailing their 44-foot yacht in a regatta with 32 other vessels from New Zealand to Tonga in 1994.
The expedition became infamous when a fluke storm hit the group of yachts, sinking eight.
Fortunately, Janelle and Phil lived to tell the tale and went on to spend time in Fiji and Vanuatu, before sailing to Brisbane and then Hamilton Island where they spent three years running an ice-cream parlour and then a seafood restaurant.
In 2001 they decided to venture over to the mainland where Janelle re-discovered a passion for floristry, infusing a dedication to perfection with creative flair to make incredible floral displays that are her legacy.
During this time, she met Sophie Hodgetts who became like a daughter to her.
“I was very lost at the time and Janelle always knew what you needed” said Sophie who became an apprentice at Flower Hut and worked for Janelle for nine years.
“She had a very big heart, but you had to earn her trust, respect and friendship.
“She was like my Miranda Presley from Devil Wears Prada – always telling us to stand up straight, present ourselves properly as we were a reflection of her.”
Phil also recalls Janelle’s dedication to presentation – “she was always a lady and liked to do everything properly,” he said.
Janelle is survived by “wonderful friends that looked after her to the end”, her much-loved husband, her two step-sons, two nephews and nieces and her sister.
Friends will be informed of a date for the memorial service next month.