School in bloom for annual competition

Pupils from Abbeyfields First School in their garden. Jan Curry and Helen Briggs with pupils and the Lord Collingwood Royal Half Sovereign boat planter and scarecrow. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Pupils from Abbeyfields First School in their garden. Jan Curry and Helen Briggs with pupils and the Lord Collingwood Royal Half Sovereign boat planter and scarecrow. Picture by Jane Coltman.

A Morpeth school pushed the boat out for their contribution to the town’s Northumbria in Bloom entry.

The gardening club at Abbeyfields First School is very popular and pupils also enjoy floral activities.

For this year’s bloom competition, Morpeth’s three themes were the 100th anniversary of the WI movement, market gardens and Lord Colllingwood, as it is 210 years since the Battle of Trafalgar.

And it did not take long for the staff and children to agree to do something for all three.

The centrepiece is a large planter in the shape of a section of a boat – called the Royal Half Sovereign. The structure was made by the caretaker.

As part of the floral tribute, poppies were crocheted in yellow and blue.

Pupils and parents have been making crafts, jams and other items and selling them at a WI stall and various vegetables have been grown in the school allotment.

In addition, they have put together WI and Lord Collingwood scarecrows.

Helen Briggs, who runs the after-school gardening club with Jan Curry, said: “Doing these activities makes gardening come alive for the children and even more of them are now interested in joining the club.

“We run it throughout the school year so that the pupils on the waiting list can have a go and the allotment is used as part of school lessons.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of Morpeth’s bloom entry and as well as the practical activities we’ve done in the last few months, the children have also learned more about the WI, including their importance during World War II.”

Jan added: “The pupils are very enthusiastic in their work and when they operate the stalls and it’s great that we can provide something which enriches their lives.”

In addition, members of the Morpeth Town WI group – which started last year – were invited to the school to see the planting of a pear tree provided by Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre.

One of those who attended, Carole Bilton, said: “Hopefully, this tree will flourish like our group will in the years ahead. Many members are keen gardeners and it’s nice to be involved in a big community effort.”

Abbeyfields First School was one of the places visited by the Northumbria in Bloom judges on Tuesday.

Other locations included Carlisle Park, the Millennium Green off Newgate Street, Sanderson Arcade, Deuchar Park and the red, white and blue displays in tribute to Lord Collingwood in front of Morpeth Clock Tower and Benmar House (where MS Research and Relief Fund staff and volunteers have been supported by students at Collingwood School and Media Arts College).

The bloom entry is led by Morpeth Town Council in partnership with Heighley Gate, Morpeth Chamber of Trade and Northumberland County Council.

Town council clerk Gillian Turner said: “The judges seemed to really enjoy the tour of Morpeth and we have been fortunate this year with the judging day as it came before the schools broke up for the summer, so they could meet many of the young people that have been involved in bloom activities.

“After the tour, we went back to Heighley Gate for a special lunch to thank the people who have played a big part in our entry.

“We’ve had many positive comments from local residents and a couple of visitors who live in Canterbury, Kent, came up to me last week as I was wearing a Morpeth in Bloom shirt and they said the town looks lovely.”

The Northumbria in Bloom award winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Berwick in September.