Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Village to enter Britain in Bloom contest after all

Village to enter Britain in Bloom contest after all

GORING will be entering this year’s Britain in Bloom competition after all.

The committee which organises the village’s annual entry always intended to put up floral baskets, as it has done most years since 2012, but was considering taking a break from the contest this summer.

However, it decided to compete again when the Royal Horticultural Society announced that next month’s judging would be conducted virtually because it was unsure when the Government will lift all coronavirus restrictions.

Goring will be judged in the small town category of the Thames and Chilterns region and will be eligible for next year’s national title if it scores highly enough.

The Bloom team, which won a national gold award and recognition as the best small town in Britain when Goring last entered in 2019, has installed dozens of hanging baskets including seven new ones at the Arcade in High Street.

These are sponsored by several of the traders there, which have taken responsibility for watering them. The owner of the Sixties shopping precinct has also provided a “generous” donation.

The baskets are filled with pink, black and white petunias as these are the colours of the village’s biennial Gap Festival, which will return next year after being cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Committee members planted them up at the home of chairwoman Stephanie Bridle in the spring and have hung several at Goring lock.

They have also filled decorative troughs and planters in several locations and encouraged villagers to keep their front gardens as beautiful as possible.

The Airey family, who live in the village, have cleared a grass border at the Wheel Orchard car park, off Station Road, and the volunteers have planted it with wildflowers to make it more attractive.

Mrs Bridle, who lives in Cleeve Road with her husband Ron, said the baskets were thriving despite the heavy rain and wind which hit the area just after they went up.

The parish council has supported the team’s bid by removing graffiti which was recently daubed over several buildings and items of street furniture in green paint.

Mrs Bridle said: “The weather has been challenging because it has gone from being very dry to heavy rain and back again. Our baskets have taken quite a battering but they’ve stood up well and the sun is mostly out now. It’s very much business as usual with a positive atmosphere and all our volunteers doing their bit.

“We get a huge amount of thanks and gratitude from the public, who recognise the value of what we do. They talk to us in the street and also send messages through our website. It’s encouraging to know that we’re brightening up people’s lives and making Goring a more attractive place for visitors, which is good for business.”

The committee will take photographs of its work and enter two of the competition’s categories — managing the environment and pride of place.

For the former, it will include details of the automatic watering device which it installed beneath the sloped flower bed at Goring station last summer, when the competition was called off nationally.

The device consists of a system of pipes laid under the soil which hydrates the roots directly on a timer. It means the volunteers don’t have to regularly water the 125 sq m bed using a wheeled bowser.

The committee will also include a recent cutting from Great Western Railway’s on-board magazine which showcases the volunteers’ efforts. Mrs Bridle said: “Many initiatives have been able to stop during the pandemic but we always wanted to keep Bloom going in some form because it’s an important part of the village calendar.

“At first we didn’t know what form this year’s competition would take but digital entries seemed more friendly so we entered.

“It’s always uplifting for the community and it would be nice to get some recognition again, although we did get some recognition from the RHS in the form of its Banksian Medal over the winter. They appreciate the hard work we put in and it is hard work but we’re happy to do it. It’s more or less my full-time job but it still couldn’t happen without the valuable effort made by my team.

“We’re not expecting an official visit by the judges but they said they’d like to come and chat with us informally so we’re mindful that Goring needs to stay as tidy as possible.”

The committee’s bid looked set to fail at the start of the year when the parish council, which typically awards a grant for the entry fee, said it couldn’t provide one this time due to a change in policy. It offered funding as long as the committee came under its control but Mrs Bridle declined, saying it had to stay independent, and obtained the money privately.

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