Horsham in Bloom (HiB) recently hosted a special evening at Roffey Millennium Hall to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Christine Costin who was chairman of Horsham in Bloom for eleven years was invited along to cut the cake and to say a few words.
Christine and her committee worked tirelessly to improve the green spaces of Horsham and to present Horsham Town and various conservation groups and schools for awards from South and South East in Bloom leading eventually in 2007 to the best award of all of first place in the Bee the Wildest competition and Gold and National winner in the Small City category of Britain in Bloom. A triumph!
The committee, now led by Sue Brundish, has continued to work hard for Horsham. In her opening remarks of welcome, she emphasised the value of the commitment shown by a small number of people during this double decade of endeavour.
She said: “Horsham has recently been named as one if the best places to live in the country. The work of Horsham in Bloom, led by a small group of volunteers has made a significant contribution to this and everyone past and present can be proud of the difference they have made for the town.
“Horsham in Bloom is not only about flowers, as evidenced by the number of conservation and environmental groups here this evening. More it represents a genuine wish to make Horsham a better community within which to live.”
HiB’s main success in recent years has been the establishment of the much visited and unique Human Nature Garden in Horsham Park.
This project was sponsored by money from the Big Lottery Community Spaces fund with planting expertise provided by Horsham District Council. The committee at this time was led by Anne Bellringer who sadly died just a few weeks before the official opening of the garden.
Another notable success which was originally discussed in a Horsham in Bloom meeting was the transformation of the beds in North Street which offer a very welcome sight to visitors to the town. It was planted to coincide with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and is a wave of stunning plants inspired by the work of Piet Odulf .
Throughout its twenty year history Horsham in Bloom has been keen to offer support to other volunteer groups by the way of environmental grants and morale support. This contact with other volunteers was therefore a main feature of the evening at the Millennium Hall and two groups were asked to give a talk and a presentation of their work.
Other groups were invited along to chat about their projects and to use this event as an opportunity to network as this kind of social interaction can provide valuable encouragement and support.
Stuart Card, community engagement officer for HDC was invited to the event as he has been recently appointed to help and support such groups. Ryan Allison, volunteer support warden, was also there so it was an ideal occasion for the volunteers to meet them and to discuss their projects.
Stuart explained that he works with volunteer groups who are connected to sites which are owned by HDC. One of his objectives will be to ensure health and safety concerns are noted and that any legislation or paper work is adhered to.
He also wishes to carry out risk assessments and to offer training sessions in the use of equipment; and to make suggestions as to how to develop work programmes and schedules. His intention over the next few years is to visit the groups, to offer advice as to get the best out of their project.
Ryan Allison will also be involved with the groups and specifically in practical tasks. First Aid training sessions will be a consideration. Stuart says of the groups that ‘they are a real community asset and we want to support them’. Also that ‘it is important to encourage people to come to these groups especially students who would like to volunteer and to make the groups sustainable’.
At this point in the evening Christine Costin was invited to cut the cake! She spoke very favourably of the work of Horsham in Bloom, its support of volunteer groups and praised the volunteers for the many dedicated hours of work which they give to enhance and improve the local and immediate environment in projects which can be a challenge but that they are prepared to take on especially as volunteers.
Christine subsequently thanked the committee ‘for a superb evening which was really inspiring and great fun. The cake was a triumph and the invited guests were talented, friendly, enthusiastic and remarkable’.
The groups who attended were Boldings Brook, Earles Meadow, Gatwick Green Space. Horsham Garden Music Festival, Transition Horsham, Allotments at Transition Horsham, Chesworth Farm, The Green Gym, Alders Copse, Friends of Warnham Nature Reserve, Friends of Chesworth Farm, North Street Volunteers and the Horsham Town Centre Community Partnership which is working on the Riverside Project. Most of these groups have very good websites which will provide you with details of how you could become involved.
Robert Brown, former chairman of the Earles Meadow Residents Association and now responsible for the Earles Meadow Conservation Group, presented a very informative talk on the work which has been undertaken in recent years.
He said he would like to ‘convey his Group’s appreciation for the work that HiB does in promoting the volunteer groups. The awards and support received have greatly boosted our confidence and profile’.
The Conservation Group comprises volunteers involved in carrying out restoration and conservation work to the woodland and meadows forming part of the 13 acres of public open space at Earles Meadow.
It works in close co-operation with the land owners, the North Horsham Parish Council and financial support by way of grants and donations to purchase tools and equipment has come from the Parish Council and Horsham in Bloom.
This has enabled the volunteers to improve the tree canopy, open up streams and ditches, restore the meadows, carry out coppicing of Hazel and repair the boardwalks and much more.
The intention is to make this space more accessible to the public for their enjoyment and recreation whilst protecting and preserving the natural environment and to learn and educate.
His talk and excellent photographs provided an overview of four years of work by the Earles Meadow Conservation Group on 10 of the 13 acres of woodland, meadows, streams and parkland and he concluded by saying that they welcome any new volunteers to join them.
For more details see http://www.earlesmeadowhorsham.org.uk/
A talk on Chesworth Farms Wetland Project was then delivered by Mike Ayling who also presented excellent photographs of the many changes which have taken place since the group was formed in August 2011, chaired by Diane Sumpter.
Its main aim is to enhance the area for the benefit and protection of wildlife and to promote Chesworth Farm as a place of enjoyment for all, even the new dog splash!
The continued development of the project was a result of a joint initiative between Friends of Chesworth Farm (FCF) and Horsham District Council (HDC).
There is now a superb board walk which leads to a charming water fall and pathways which link to the new Riverside Walk Project. There is also a large area of wetland which has seen many new species sighted in recent months. To enjoy all of this in comfort visit the new bird hide.
The Riverside Field Project has at times noted 36 new species. To follow regular sightings look at http://friendsofchesworthfarm.com/wildlife-sightings/ and for more information on the project see http://friendsofchesworthfarm.com
Horsham in Bloom now looks forward to meeting fellow volunteers at the annual barbecue in September and perhaps at our next venture which is a special ‘Simply Gardening’ evening at the Capitol Theatre in October in the delightful company of Jim Buttress of the BBC ‘Big Allotment Challenge’ and Tom Hart Dyke who has created the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle.