Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Seed is planted for gardeners to enter regional awards

SONNING Common could enter next year’s Britain in Bloom awards after a voluntary group was recognised last week.

SONNING Common could enter next year’s Britain in Bloom awards after a voluntary group was recognised last week.

The Village Gardeners received a certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society for carrying out “outstanding” work in the community in the It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards at St Mary’s Church in Reading.

Ben Stanesby, one of the judges, invited the village to enter next year’s Thames and Chilterns regional awards to try and win the best large village category.

Chairwoman Chrissie Phillips-Tilbury said the group had a meeting on Thursday last week and will now drum up support from businesses before making a firm decision.

She said: “I love a challenge and my attitude is it’s better to try and possibly fail than not try at all. Our judge was so complimentary about our work in the village and, of course, to beat all the other 14 entries from Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire was an extra boost.

“We are apprehensive as a group of the extra workload but I will be contacting all the businesses in Sonning Common to get their help and support. We are also extremely fortunate to have the support of the parish council.

“Provided we get the support we need we will probably go ahead. I would be very surprised if we don’t.”

Mrs Phillips-Tilbury, who is also a parish councillor, said the group of about 20 volunteers, which is in its third year, was “elated” to receive a prize. It was one of only three “outstanding” groups in the competition and the only one in Oxfordshire, receiving 89 marks out of 100 by the judges.

Mr Stanesby will now meet with the group again and Mrs Phillips-Tilbury added: “He’s very keen for us to enter and he thinks we will do very well. But it’s a big step for us all to take.”

The group has already been responsible for tidying up the village centre, planting three flower beds in Wood Lane and redecorating the red phone box that has been relocated to the same road.

Mrs Phillips-Tilbury said it would be a case of continuing the group’s work with a few additions.

She said: “The one area where we fell down slightly in the marks was thinking more in terms of looking ahead to what else we could do to improve the character of the village.

“We need to look for more sites for edible planting, for example.”

The theme for next year’s competition, which will hold its awards at Henley town hall, is wildlife and conservation and Mrs Phillips-Tilbury said the group is keen to embrace this.

“We would like to have a look at more of those areas which we haven’t done yet because we’ve been concentrating so much on getting the centre of the village done,” she said.

“Increasing the relationship with the schools, particularly Sonning Common Primary, and with the guides and brownies is also important. We’ve already made a start with that.”

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