Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Village to take a year off from Bloom competition

GORING will not enter the Britain in Bloom competition this year.

The Goring Gap in Bloom committee, which organises the village’s annual bid, says it wants to enjoy a break from the pressure of judging after winning the village’s first gold award at national level last year.

Chairwoman Stephanie Bridle and several of her colleagues are also involved in running this year’s biennial Gap Festival, which runs from June 12 to 20, and don’t want to divide their attention too much.

However, the volunteers will still be working to make Goring look beautiful over the summer and hope to enter the Royal Horticultural Society competition again next year.

They have also been invited to take part in Communities in Bloom, an international competition run by a Canadian body which learned about Goring’s achievements online.

Mrs Bridle said: “There’s a lot of work involved in preparing for both the regional and national judging and there’s a lot of pressure not to lose points in any areas.

“We’ve always done it for the good of the community but we’ve never had the chance to just enjoy the fruits of our labours and it will be nice not to have to look at it from a judge’s perspective.

“From my point of view, I’ve got 11 grandchildren so life is always a bit of a juggling act anyway. The RHS already knows and understands our reasons entirely — it’s no big deal and we were very clear that we aren’t just disappearing after getting our gold.

“We feel very responsible for carrying that flag and definitely want to return.

“We’ve enjoyed what we’ve done so far and never expected any of our success when we first began looking into this in 2012.

“It has been great fun working with Thames and Chilterns in Bloom as they’re all great people who really inspire you and push you to do your best.

“It’s not just about the work you do or the competition but being a part of a like-minded group who share the same passion.

“We’ll miss the wonderful cameraderie but at the same time we’ll enjoy a summer of just tootling around doing our planting, chatting with friends and hopefully keeping fit in the fresh air.

“It’s flattering being asked to compete internationally but we’d need to think about that before making a decision as there would be costs involved.” So far this year, the committee has tidied up the flower beds at Goring station and at the corner of Gardiner recreation ground off Upper Red Cross Road.

Members will soon plant up several dozen hanging baskets at Mrs Bridle’s home in Cleeve Road and these will be left to grow in her greenhouse before being hung up in the late spring.

The volunteers have also obtained permission from Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, to update signs at the village entrances, reflecting its Bloom successes.

They will also continue tidying the area around the BT exchange building off Station Road and work with Andy Arkell, who was recently appointed the village’s lock-keeper and is a keen gardener, to improve the green area surrounding the lock near Goring bridge.

Mrs Bridle said: “We always call this time our ‘spring awakening’ as it’s when we come out of hibernation and start tidying things up.

“We aren’t going to stop working to make the village proud as people appreciate the improvements and are very kind.

“It’s a great way of improving social interaction because people often stop to chat with our volunteers. Gardening is a topic that gets many people talking and for some older people who live alone it could be the only time they speak to somebody that day.”

Goring follows in the footsteps of Henley, which has also decided not to enter Bloom this year as town councillors say it doesn’t have the resources.

Since it first entered in 2012, Goring has also won five gold awards and two silver gilts in the small town category of the competition’s Thames and Chilterns region.

Individual projects have been singled out for praise, including the Withymead nature reserve and the herb and vegetable garden at Goring Primary School.

The committee also didn’t enter in 2016 due to uncertainty over funding.

In 2018, the volunteers’ successful bid for a regional gold award was filmed for a BBC 2 documentary series which was broadcast the following year.

Their efforts are funded by Goring Parish Council, Goring Gap News, the village fire brigade trust and other community associations as well as individuals.

Anyone wishing to help hang the baskets on Saturday, May 2 should contact Mrs Bridle via
www.goringgapinbloom.org.uk

There will also be a fundraising “bring and buy” plant sale in Rectory Garden from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, April 25.

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