Saturday, 19 June 2021

Greys Court hosts WI flower arranging contest for first time

A NATIONAL flower arranging competition organised by the Women’s Institute was held at Greys Court for

A NATIONAL flower arranging competition organised by the Women’s Institute was held at Greys Court for the first time.

The Huxley Cup took place over four days and was themed around Lady Brunner, who lived on the estate until her death in 2003 and was chairwoman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in the Fifties.

Entries could be themed around one of six aspects of Lady Brunner’s life — music and drama, flowers and gardening, craft and cookery, her progression within the WI or the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, which she launched in 1955. The sixth category was Denman College in Marcham, an adult residential college which she helped found under the WI’s umbrella in 1948. At that time, she was president of Oxfordshire WI.

The nine contenders included Carol Doughty, from Wantage WI, who was representing the Oxfordshire federation and came third.

Her piece, themed around Keep Britain Tidy, consisted of red, white and blue flowers and a Union flag erupting from a column of litter bins.

Jane Probitts, of Stoke Row WI, said: “We are very proud. She achieved a very worthy third place and we’re told it was a very close competition this year.”

The winner was Ann Willetts, of Pontllanfraith WI in South Wales, whose arrangement was based on flowers and gardening.

It consisted of pink and violet roses, carnations, verbena, delphiniums, clematis and other blooms arranged around gardening tools and a sun hat.

Mrs Willetts said: “I’m chuffed to bits and very proud to have won. Greys Court was a fabulous choice of venue with a lovely historic connection to the Women’s Institute.” The entries were judged by florist Pip Bensley, a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner.

Mary Clarke, a national WI trustee who helped organise the event, said: “Lady Brunner was a great advocate for the WI and was such a lovely character that we decided to base the competition around her at her former home. The visitors enjoyed it immensely and it attracted a lot of interest. I think visitor numbers were up during our time here.”

Entries were displayed at the estate’s Cromwellian stables so anyone visiting the National Trust property could view them.

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