Monday, 14 June 2021

Help needed to maintain bloom success

GORING’S success in Britain in Bloom may not continue without the parish council’s help, say organisers.

GORING’S success in Britain in Bloom may not continue without the parish council’s help, say organisers.

The village’s entry to the annual competition is managed by a group of about 50 volunteers who plant, install and maintain dozens of hanging baskets and tubs.

Since first competing in 2012, Goring has won two silver gilt certificates and one gold in the Thames and Chilterns region’s small town category.

It has also won numerous awards, including best community involvement and the Matt Matlock Schools Challenge Cup for its work with Goring Primary School.

But co-organiser Stephanie Bridle says her team is struggling to meet the competition’s demands. Many of the volunteers are elderly and suffer from mobility problems but no one has come forward to replace them.

She wants the parish council to hire contractors who would plant and put up the hanging baskets then water them every day for five months.

Her committee would continue to pay for and maintain tubs, planters, flower beds and other schemes to improve the look of the village.

At the moment, the council gives £800 a year towards the baskets.

The volunteers plant them at Mrs Bridle’s home in Cleeve Road, where she lives with her husband and fellow organiser Ron, at the end of April and put them up about a month later. Last year they installed 46 in Goring and six in Streatley. They water them using a mobile solar-powered bowser.

Mrs Bridle believes the contractors would cost about £3,500 and says the council could recoup about half of this by asking businesses to sponsor baskets.

She said it was a worthwhile investment that would attract more visitors to Goring.

She said: “Britain in Bloom is judged on the basis of continuous improvement so you have to do more each year.

“We’re obviously getting older and it’s difficult to get volunteers to do the watering as it is very hard work.

“We would like to put this on a similar footing to Henley, where the town council manages the baskets.

“I can’t see why the parish council would not agree to that as it’s what happens in most other places. It would take a lot of the burden from us as we would not have to do so much heavy lifting.”

Mrs Bridle said her team would manage the entry in its entirety this year before reviewing the situation.

She said: “It would be a tragedy if this could not continue as local businesses and shopkeepers are very enthusiastic about what we do.

“We get a lot of good feedback — people sometimes stop when we’re watering to congratulate us on how lovely everything looks.

“It makes the village more beautiful and provides a real talking point, plus all our awards provide great publicity in terms of tourism.

“We might not have to stop next year but the council should still be thinking about what will happen when we can’t do it any more.

“Villagers would be disappointed so they should at least build up their budget to a level where they can go commercial if they need to.”

Mrs Bridle is to submit detailed estimates at the council’s request.

Sally Swift, a judge for the Thames and Chilterns region of Britain in Bloom, encouraged Goring and Streatley to enter when Mr Bridle was organising the village’s celebrations to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.

Anyone interested in helping the committee should call Mrs Bridle on (01491) 875283.

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