Sunday, 18 November 2018

Goring wins gold again

Goring wins gold again

GORING has been awarded its fourth gold in the Britain in Bloom competition.

The village won the small town category for the Thames and Chilterns region in the annual contest run by the Royal Horticultural Society. It scored 176 out of 200, beating its previous best marks of 173.

Members of the Goring Gap in Bloom committee were presented with a trophy at the regional awards ceremony in Woodley.

They were also a presented with the society’s Pride of Place award for the enthusiasm shown by villagers when the judges visited in July.

The judges’ report said: “Pride of place features in all that one observes in this small town. It is not just to do with cleanliness and tidiness, but a total sense of pride from all the participants in what they do and achieve.

“The Bloom project has encouraged businesses, residents, individuals and families to get involved in caring for their village.”

The visitors were particularly impressed with a new earth bank on the eastern platform of Goring station which has been planted with an assortment of shrubs that survived the exceptionally hot summer thanks to volunteer David Slarks, of Valley Close, who watered them every day.

Judges singled out the Withymead nature reserve to the north of the village for its “high-quality habitat” and “knowledgeable” wardens.

Another highlight was the sunflowers planted along the footpath between High Street and the Wheel Orchard car park, some of which grew to more than 8ft.

Another new feature this year was the pink wheelbarrows that were planted with flowers and placed outside businesses in the village centre as part of the biennial Gap Festival, which took place in July.

Stephanie Bridle, who chairs the committee, said: “I’m absolutely elated because we did really well last year and on that basis we had somewhat lower expectations.

“Being named best in category was a real boost as we have a friendly rivalry with Stony Stratford, which is a much bigger community. We were also pleased with the Pride of Place award because it shows how enthusiasm is growing in the community for everything we do.

“People seem more aware of our work and I think that is a prize for the entire village.

“The main challenge this year was keeping everything alive, which was hard as things bloomed at different times.

“Our wildflower garden off High Street was over pretty quickly as it soon dried up like a hay field despite being a central feature.

“However, the judges liked our basket designs and the fact that we’d planted them ourselves in colours that were specific to Goring instead of buying commercially planted ones.

“We’re also very thankful to the Goring Gap News for funding self-watering baskets with their own reservoirs, which made such a
difference.

“David did a superb job of watering the bank at the station and was a real hero considering the weather but all our volunteers’ efforts are valued.

“Our sunflowers were a massive hit and pretty much the eighth wonder of the world to people living here. They grew incredibly tall and taking them down was like felling trees. We’ve left the seed heads out for the birds.

“Britain in Bloom is very much becoming part of the annual cycle of events in the community — people always ask how we got on and the increased profile means we can get more donations and that sort of thing.

“We also get a lot more requests for advice as people now think we’re experts.”

Mrs Bridle, who lives in Cleeve Road, and her team are already considering ideas for next year’s entry.

She said: “We aren’t going to rest on our laurels but it will mostly be a case of continuing to enhance what is already working.

“The RHS is changing the marking scheme next year so that there’s a greater emphasis on environmental responsibility and community participation. I think we’re strong in those areas as well as the horticultural elements.”

Goring previously won gold in 2013, 2015 and 2017 and silver gilt in 2012 and 2014. It took a year off in 2016 due to uncertainty over funding.

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