Apple king's in the pink

Inventor of the Pink Lady and Sundowner apples, John Cripps. Picture: Stever Ferrier/The West Australian

John Cripps had an early interest in horticulture as a young boy growing up in England.

That passion led to the creation of one of the world's most popular apples, the Pink Lady, in WA in 1973.

"It's a life ambition in a way because when I was a schoolboy we had a few apple trees in the garden. They had Cox's Orange, which is from a Blenheim Orange, and a Ribston Pippin," he said. "I wondered that if Mr Cox could do it, could I do it."

More than 40 years after his discovery of the Pink Lady and the Sundowner, Mr Cripps, now 87, becomes an Officer in the General Division for his distinguished service to primary industry through internationally renowned, innovative contributions to the agriculture and food sectors, and to the community.

"It was a surprise. It came rather late in my life. It's been a long time, better later than never," he said from the home in Floreat he shares with his wife Verity.

Mr Cripps had just completed a degree in horticulture at England's University of Reading and was looking for jobs in London when the WA Department of Agriculture contacted him.

A few years later, he crossbred the Golden Delicious and Lady William apples to create the Cripps Pink, known as Pink Lady under its trademark, and the later season Cripps Red, which is sold as Sundowner.

The take-up of Pink Lady apples was slow until the boss of French fruit company Star Fruits, which now holds the trademark in Europe, turned up on Mr Cripps' doorstep.

Angela Pownall

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting