Blooming West Auckland wins praise from Northumbria in Bloom judges
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
NORTHUMBRIA-in-Bloom judges were so impressed with West Auckland’s entry into the “It’s Your Neighbourhood” category, they have urged them to enter the entire village in next year's competition.
Organisers of West’s entry pushed out all the stops, working late into the evening before the judging to sweep pavements and carry out last minute litter picking.
More remarkable for judges Colleen and Eric Ashwin-Kean is that the entry was only launched in November last year, and was sparked purely by chance.
Organiser Jean Pattison suggested the idea of entering after returning from holiday in October last year, and noticed a group of people, including fellow organiser Audrey Beck, helping the parish council by planting daffodils on the green.
Mrs Pattison said the group began its fundraising campaign with a coffee morning in November last year, where about £500 was raised.
She added that The Well coffee shop in the village had raised more than £300 with its own fundraiser and another event by High Croft school, in Cockfield, had raised about £400.
She said: “We have raised £6,700 since we started in November.”
Mrs Beck added: “Everyone has helped, it has been a truly amazing experience for me.”
Particular thanks was given to Smurfit Kappa Packaging, which has a branch in the village.
The company helped store the numerous planters that were bought and later placed them at various spots around the green and helped fill them with compost.
Later, a working party from the company cleared a pathway between Chapel Street and Oakley Cross Primary School and planted flowers along its verge.
Mrs Pattison said pupils from the school as well as children from the Thursday Club had also helped around the village.
The judges were impressed with the result.
Mrs Ashwin-Kean said: “I think they have done really well. Everything is spotlessly clean. They are using a lot of sustainable planting and are well on their way.
“I would recommend they go into the village category next year. They have a beautiful village and they have the support of their community. They are very lucky to have a beautiful large green.
“It is not just the planting that is amazing, it is the amount of money they have raised to get it, and to get the residents to be part of that.”
Organisers said they are keen on entering the village category of the environmental competition next year.