Chairman’s report 2017

This is a transcript of the chairman’s report delivered by Martin Bamford at the Cranleigh in Bloom prize giving tea party this afternoon.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the annual Cranleigh in Bloom tea party. Thank you to Notcutts Garden Centre for hosting this event and sponsoring our tea party again this year. We really do appreciate your kind support.

I’m pleased to welcome Cllr Mary Foryszewski, chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council, who has kindly agreed to present the certificates to our various award winners this afternoon.

But before that, I would like to deliver my chairman’s report and provide what I promise will be a brief update on the activities of Cranleigh in Bloom during the past year, as well as some of our plans for the future.

Cranleigh in Bloom is a voluntary community organisation with the goal of promoting civic pride, encouraging people to get involved in their community and bringing together various groups of people. It’s been my pleasure to be chairman of Cranleigh in Bloom for the past two years and such a pleasure working with my committee and also with the volunteers who make everything we do possible.

Before I talk about some of the projects Cranleigh in Bloom has delivered and been involved with in 2017, I would like to say thank you to a few people.

Firstly, the Cranleigh in Bloom committee. I’m very lucky to have Jane O’Leary as our Secretary, my mum Andy as our Treasurer, and ongoing support from Sue and Jeanette as well.

Representing Cranleigh Parish Council on our committee is Mary Foryszewski, who has been an invaluable addition to the team this year and is always willing to help us join the dots, making introductions and connecting us to the right people within Cranleigh Parish Council, Waverley Borough Council and beyond.

Representing Waverley Borough Council on the committee is Mark Collings, who during the past couple of years has meant things get done in the village that I think we sometimes struggled to achieve with Waverley in previous years. Mary and Mark, thank you for your continued service.

As a committee, we adopted a formal constitution this year, which I hope means Cranleigh in Bloom has a steadier footing in the future and can continue to deliver so much for the village.

I also want to thank our merry band of volunteers. The Cranleigh in Bloom army are the waterers, weeders and litter-pickers who keep our village looking fantastic year round. As an organisation, we are always looking for more volunteers; whether you can spare an hour or two to join a working party or would like a more regular commitment, such as watering a specific area of communal planting or being a part of our committee, we would love to speak to you!

Last but not least, our sponsors. It costs us around £3,000 each year to pay for the various communal displays in Fountain Square, Stocklund Square, the Millennial Sculpture and Village Hall, the flower beds outside the Post Office, and the Library flower bed, as well as our other projects.

All of our funding comes from local sponsors which this year are Informed Choice, Cranleigh School, Cranleigh & District Lions Club, Atrainability, TWM Solicitors, Roger N Coupe Land and New Homes, The Rotary Club of Cranleigh, Cranleigh Garden Services, Paul Stevens Garden Maintenance, Cranleigh Parish Council, Waverley Borough Council and Cllr Andrew Povey, County Councillor for Cranleigh and Ewhurst.

Without your financial support, we simply couldn’t deliver everything we do each year and I know everyone who lives and works in Cranleigh, and who visits the village, is very grateful for your generosity.

It’s been another busy and productive year for Cranleigh in Bloom. The committee took the decision at the start of the year not to re-enter the South & South East in Bloom Awards this year. We managed to submit such a brilliant entry to these regional awards last year, achieving not only the Gold certificate for the first time in our history, but winning the overall prize in our category, The Town Award 2016.

You won’t be surprised to hear it takes a huge amount of work to submit an entry of this quality! With a slightly smaller committee this year and some uncertainty around funding, we decided to take a year off and revisit South & South East in Bloom again in 2018.

That said, the only thing missing from our award entry this year was the entry form itself! We have worked hard to maintain the standards we all set last year, and informal feedback from one of the judges suggested the village is looking as good, if not better, than the year before.

Since our last tea party, one of the first projects we supported was last November planting 6,000 crocus corms on Cranleigh Common. This was led by Rotary Club of Cranleigh, part of the national Purple4Polio campaign which is designed to unite communities to engage in activities as part of the final push to eradicate polio for good. In heavy rain, a team of 16 volunteers planted the 6,000 purple crocus corns in less than 2 hours. The corms were planted in the shape of the Rotary wheel and resulted in an impressive display in the Spring.

In March we took part in the Great British Spring Clean. A group of 16 enthusiastic volunteers spent more than an hour collecting litter from around the village, including the Downs Link, Snoxhall Playing Fields, The Common and High Street. We repeated this litter picking again in July, and plan to do it for a third time this year on Saturday 11th November.

One of our big projects this year has been improving the neglected Village Hospital Garden. I would like to single out two volunteers in particular; Mikki Marks, who worked incredibly hard to gain permission to tackle this project, and Robert Todman, who takes great pride in mowing the lawn and keeping the garden there tidy. I’m pleased Cranleigh in Bloom was able to get involved and help make such a remarkable difference to this key site in the village.

During several working parties, we have removed weeds and cut back overgrowth, before edging the borders, mowing the lawn and adding fresh compost. New plants have also been added to the garden which are sympathetic to the cottage garden. The Cranleigh Village Hospital League of Friends have even managed to get an outside tap installed recently, so we have been able to add some new planting and make the hospital garden look even better.

With the permission of Cranleigh Parish Council and a kind donation of wildflower turf from Waverley Borough Council, we transformed the area outside the public conveniences in Village Way, creating a mini-wildflower meadow. This suffered a minor setback in the summer when an enthusiastic contractor ran his strimmer over the poppies and daisies, but it has leapt back to life and, along with a freshly painted fence, painted by Cranleigh in Bloom, really transforms this area.

We’ve been pleased to help with the Park Mead School Wildlife Garden, donating manpower and some materials to this project. It’s been great to hear about the enthusiasm of so many groups of children at the school who spend time in this brilliant wildlife haven; pond-dipping, growing vegetables, looking for slowworms and birdwatching.

Our volunteers have been out in force at village events this year, including Cranleigh Parish Council’s Community Showcase and, more recently, the Cranleigh Lions Fun Day and Carnival. During the Lions Fun Day we held a treasure hunt for children and invited entries to a planted welly boot competition, where the overall winner, judged by Cllr Andrew Povey, was Martha Wheeler.

Another project which Cranleigh in Bloom has been pleased to help with is the improvement of the three ponds on Cranleigh Common. Our volunteers took part in willow coppicing projects, ahead of dredging work on the ponds, completed under the supervision of The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. It’s great to see these ponds holding decent levels of water again, even during the dryer summer months, and I know more work is planned, including the creation of some naturalisation areas around the pond edges.

And of course we have arranged to plant and maintain the various communal floral displays in the High Street, and we have delivered 74 hanging baskets and troughs for businesses and charity shops in the High Street, an increase in numbers compared to last year. A big thank you to our grower, David Johnson, who has done another brilliant job this year, growing everything from seed and, with help from this dad, getting all of the troughs and baskets delivered to the right places.

Looking ahead to the future, we really do need more help and support, including some additional committee members, so we can continue to make all of this happen. As with most of the great things that happen in Cranleigh, it seems to be the same small number of volunteers behind the initiative, and we really need to spread the load a bit more. So this is my appeal; if you get any enjoyment or benefit from Cranleigh in Bloom, which I hope you do, please consider volunteering on an occasional basis or joining our committee.

Our ability to enter South & South East in Bloom again next year, and retain our gold standard, will depend on finding more help.

We also want to coordinate with other local groups and expand our activities to cover more areas in the villages, including working with the schools and residents associations, so please do join our committee or regular volunteers list to make this possible.

With no further ado from me, it’s time for the part of the afternoon you’ve all been waiting for, the Cranleigh in Bloom Awards 2017.

I would like to say thank you to Kevin Tait from Farnham Town Council, who kindly devoted a Saturday morning earlier in the summer to tour the High Street and carry out the initial judging this year. This judging session was followed-up a few weeks ago, to make sure you all kept up your watering efforts for the rest of the summer! We then averaged the two scores to calculate the bronze, silver and gold winners.

Before I announce the winners in each category, I want to say that you are of course all winners. Receiving a Gold certificate is of course a brilliant achievement, but by simply taking part in Cranleigh in Bloom and displaying a hanging basket or floral display, you are making such an important contribution to the overall look and standard of the village, so thank you and well done.