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Friday, 23 April 2021
THE “flower ladies” of Kidmore End have not let the coronavirus pandemic stop them from brightening up the village.
They usually decorate St John the Baptist Church in Tokers Green Lane with flowers for special events but this is not allowed at the moment due to the covid-19 safety regulations.
Not to be defeated, the women — Moira Lawrie, Joss Lynch, Sue Hedges, Caroline McAslan and Mary Crouch — decided to decorate the old well just outside the church entrance instead.
The quintet are unofficially known as the “flower ladies” as they have been decorating the church for about 20 years.
But this year they used the well for Easter, VE Day in May and, most recently, the Harvest Festival.
Mrs Lawrie, of Chalkhouse Green Road, said: “It’s lovely that people who wouldn’t usually be in the church get to see the decorations now that they are outside. It would probably be nice to keep it going outside, though with the wind and the gales I was amazed that it was still standing.
“It’s a nice thing and it’s a focal point in the centre of the village. We are on a cycle route and a lot of cyclists come through and stop to take photographs.”
Mrs Lawrie, who lives with her husband, John, usually gets her flowers from Tesco or from Erica Cunningham at Brambles Floristry in Wood Lane, Sonning Common.
But the Harvest Festival flowers were grown by Mrs Hedges and her husband Keith, from Gallowstree Common, who would normally enter them in the local shows but these have all been cancelled as well due to the pandemic.
Mrs Lawrie, who was headteacher of Caversham Primary School before she retired, started the group after helping out a neighbour when she first moved to Kidmore End.
She explained: “When myself and my husband moved here 20 years ago, our elderly neighbour was worried about doing a flower arrangement at the church so I offered to help and that was the start of me doing it.
“One time there was a wedding and the florist had to drop out and the bride asked me if I knew anyone who could do it and I said I could — my husband said that I was fearless.
“There were supposed to be seven weddings this year but we’ve only managed one.”
A wedding is due to take place at the church on Halloween and Mrs Lawrie has been asked to use pumpkins in the decorations.
She says flower arranging is just a natural gift that she is happy to share.
Mrs Lawrie said: “With the piano I have to practise but with flowers I just know what to do. I’ve even given people courses on flower arranging and I give people some pointers and stuff when they have done arrangements.
“It has been a lovely hobby to do in my retirement as well as golf.”
The next two occasions when the well will be decorated are Remembrance Day on November 11 and Christmas.
When there isn’t a event to celebrate, Mrs Lawrie decorates the pillars outside the church so there is always something for visitors to see.
Many residents have messaged her and her fellow arrangers to thank them.
Caroline Aldridge, who chairs Kidmore End Parish Council, said: “The church flower ladies are continuing to do a marvellous job of decorating the well.
“These lovely decorations lift my spirits every time that I walk or drive past, thank you.”
Mrs Lawrie said: “It has been truly overwhelming, all the comments. It has been lovely.”
19 October 2020
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