We were pleased to welcome to the village today judges from the regional South & South East in Bloom competition.
Here is the introductory speech delivered to the judges before we set out for a two hour walk around Cranleigh High Street, along with some photos:
Good morning and a warm welcome to Cranleigh, the largest village in England.
I’m Martin Bamford, chairman of Cranleigh in Bloom. Also joining us on the tour today are Cranleigh in Bloom committee members Gill Ford and Mark Collings. We are really looking to spending the next couple of hours with you, showing you all of the hard work and many achievements of Cranleigh in Bloom, other local organisations and volunteers, during 2016.
Before we head out for our tour of the village, I would like to spend just a few minutes telling you about the aims and objectives of Cranleigh in Bloom, highlighting some of the areas you will be seeing today, and finally looking ahead to some 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.
The initiative started three years’ ago and each year we have built on the hard work of previous years, gaining support from additional organisations. We last entered the South & South East in Bloom competition in 2014, successfully achieving a Silver Gilt standard for our first entry, before taking a break from the competition in 2015 to establish plans for our second entry.
We currently consist of a core committee of 12 individuals, from a range of backgrounds and representing a variety of local organisations – including Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce, Waverley Borough Council, Cranleigh Parish Council, U3A Gardening Club, Rotary Club of Cranleigh and the Cranleigh & District Lions.
I was proud to become Chairman of Cranleigh in Bloom last autumn, coming from the committee of the Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce which was originally involved in establishing the Cranleigh in Bloom initiative. As you will see during the tour today, the support from our local business community this year has been incredible and makes a real difference to the vibrancy of the High Street.
When we established our goals and objectives for Cranleigh in Bloom in 2016, we agreed as a committee on five distinct items – increase levels of High Street planting, simplify maintenance and watering, encourage greater community involvement, win Silver-Gilt or above at South & South East in Bloom 2016, and create a legacy for the village. We are very pleased to have made excellent progress against all of these goals.
Along with Gill and Mark, I will be taking you for a walk along Cranleigh High Street in just a few moments time, to show you the fruits of our labour in 2016, and also share details of some of the exciting projects we have planned for the future.
In front of you on the table, you each have a folder which contains a copy of our entry portfolio, as well as other resources such as our committee agendas and minutes, and press clippings. If you would like to turn your attention quickly to the photographs section, I will give you a brief preview of the upcoming tour.
When we leave here, we will be showing you over 70 hanging baskets displayed in Cranleigh High Street, purchased and maintained by local retailers and businesses. We will be showing you the newly planted beds outside Cranleigh Library, which were transformed this year with help from local charity Surrey Choices, who helped clear an unsightly area of scrub so we could plant this stunning and sustainable bed of Sunpatients and shrubs.
We will take you to the historic Obelisk, lovingly restored this year following a campaign by local historian Michael Wild, working on behalf of Cranleigh in Bloom, and featuring a floral display sponsored by local business Roger Coupe Estate Agents.
We move onto Cranleigh Arts Centre, an important local charity where our funding has allowed their volunteers to plant new flower beds. They will also tell us about the community engagement work with local schools we have funded, and plans next year to create a ‘pocket park’.
The flower beds outside Cranleigh Post Office have been maintained and improved this year by working parties from Rotary Club of Cranleigh, who you will meet during our tour. At Fountain Square, we will show you floral displays and raised beds, originally planted by volunteers from U3A Gardening Club in years one and two of Cranleigh in Bloom.
We will visit Rowleys Day Care Centre and our Sure Start Childrens Centre; both of which have benefited from contributions from Cranleigh in Bloom this year.
The historic horse trough by Cranleigh War Memorial is a recent addition to our community floral displays, and the war memorial itself has been carefully maintained by one of our volunteers, a military veteran who is passionate about the upkeep of this area. Planting in this area also dates back to the first two years of the Cranleigh in Bloom initiative.
We then move to the top of the High Street where we will show you one of three village ponds, this one opposite the site of the former Regal Cinema and locally known as the ‘cinema pond’, where Cranleigh in Bloom volunteers worked earlier this year with Waverley Borough Council countryside rangers to remove overgrown willow.
Coppiced willow from the cinema pond was used to lay a new hedge outside Cranleigh Cricket Club, dramatically improved the aesthetics at this entrance to the village. At the Cricket Club itself, you will meet members of the Cranleigh Community Group, who are enthusiastic supporters of Cranleigh in Bloom and very excited about welcoming you today.
We then make out way back down the High Street towards Stocklund Square, where one of our volunteers has completely renovated one raised bed, and generous sponsorship from our main sponsor this year, County Councillor Alan Young, has allowed us to add a further two large floral displays in 2016.
Finally, before we return to the Parish Council Offices, we will visit the raised beds outside Cranleigh Village Hall, scene earlier this year of a large feral bee swarm; attracted no doubt by the many wild flowers at this location.
This really has been the most successful year to date for Cranleigh in Bloom, but we have no plans to rest on our laurels. Later this year, working with Rotary Club of Cranleigh and Waverley Borough Council, we will be planting 5,000 crocus bulbs on Cranleigh Common as part of the RHS and Rotary International Purple4Polio initiative.
We will be applying for Section 106 funding which will allow us to create a new flower bed outside the public conveniences in Village Way, and add new planting to the fire basket outside the Band Room.
Most importantly, we will soon start making plans to add even more hanging baskets and floral displays to the village in 2017, recruit more volunteers to help with watering and weeding, work with more local organisations and schools to foster greater community involvement, and do everything we can to promote civic pride in this beautiful village we call home.