Peter and his wife Sylvia played an instrumental, and sometimes 'lone' role in dragging Curry Rivel from a standing start to 'entry standard' in South West in Bloom.... a monumental effort. Of course there were other 'key' contributions from a small group.
At the South West in Bloom Awards Event, 5th Oct 2017, Curry Rivel won the City of Bath trophy for the best Landscape in the South West. Just to put this in context, CR was not only competing with the other entrants in the Cox cup but with every entry in this year's competition. Never before has a new entry won the City of Bath Trophy – there were audible gasps in the Hall when the result was announced. It is about as big a success as any group could possibly achieve in year one.
The judges' written comments were quite sparse, on the War Memorial they said "The War Memorial Garden was excellent and a huge undertaking, but was a great success and provided a focal point to the village and the entry itself". They also appreciated the displays in the High Street "residential container displays along one side of the High Street made a great impact, endeavour to replicate this (where possible) in other areas of the village".
Why, given the obvious Gold level standard of the war memorial garden, was the overall medal a silver. Again to put this in context nearly 90% of the awards given were silver-gilt or gold. There was only a handful of silvers. It only became clear on talking to the judges why this was. The written comments on the Community Participation are as follows "It was very good to see a school involved as part of the tour and the Head Teacher provided us with his vision for the school grounds. The planned projects could be helped with advice from the RHS and their involvement via the ongoing school program".
"Local businesses and the Parish Council have indicated ongoing support and the community have wholeheartedly become involved. It is hoped that the village continues to take part in SWIB and further projects are found to keep up the momentum gained with the first entry".
However, the general feeling of the judges about community participation was that some of the people they saw on the day did not show as much enthusiasm and understanding of the aims of South West in Bloom as they were expecting which was unfortunate. The SWiB judges were conducted on a set route and at each stop there should have been one person, ready with an enthusiastic presentation that clearly related to one or more of the specific criteria being judged.
Schools are clearly very important to the thinking of the RHS (who run the overall competition) and the judges always try to push very hard for schools to become very involved with the RHS schools' program. The judges made it clear that, in the future, they would need to see a larger number of people demonstrating enthusiasm and commitment, particularly in the school (parent involvement would be crucial).
In the environmental area we clearly did not hit four of the five criteria.
For the first, Conservation and Biodiversity, the judges' written comments were "Batty Piece and Eastfield meadows were good and a great habitat for wildlife and insects, suggest that field studies are undertaken to provide more detailed information on the species that are present". Again we failed to show that species identification has been done and unfortunately the judges did not get on the day that we are very enthusiastic about this area.
They went onto say "Consider other sites of a local heritage that can be included in future tours (such as the Burton Pynsent Monument). Provide more information on recycling schemes and environmental sustainability that takes place in the village and can support your entry in subsequent years. We are sure it is there but was not shown as part of the tour. If there are allotments in the village it would be beneficial to include them in future visits. No litter or weeds were visible or noticed on the tour, specifically as most of the tour was on foot".
So in the judging process, Resource Management, Local Heritage, Local Environmental Quality and Pride of Place (signs etc), probably got very few marks; the portfolio fell well short on these topics. On the judging day Conservation and Biodiversity were covered in depth. The portfolio was produced by Peter and Sylvia and they needed more input from elsewhere.
Peter writes "The major project was more successful than could have possibly been imagined or expected and provides the village with an enormous badge of honour and villagers have praised it in their droves. However, with the very small numbers of people involved, the War Memorial Garden and the High Street displays sucked in almost all available physical and mental effort, we were only able to arrange a few other displays around the village and we just about managed to sweep the streets the day before (as noticed by the judges) but did not manage to meet their other (some of the Community Participation but particularly Environmental Responsibility) criteria."
2017 marks the first entry into South West in Bloom by the village, the judges were impressed with their inaugural visit and were ably escorted by Peter and Sylvia Goodenough who were wonderful hosts (who provided a very good presentation of the village and its entry this year)
Both judges felt the warmth and village pride of all the people they met including William Pitt the elder during the tour.
The whole tour had a good "feel" and it was evident that a lot of hard work had been done by the whole community.
The colour theme of purple and gold (livery colours for William Pitt) was very good and it was pleasing to see this theme sustained through the majority of floral displays and arrangements that we viewed.
As part of the diary of year round events, indicate how many volunteers took part and for how long, to show the real value of community involvement"
If the village enters SWiB in 2018, one of the 2017 judges will return to provide continuity and check that the recommendations have been acted upon and that progress has been made in enlarging the volunteer base and opening up new areas to development.