A GROUP of dedicated volunteers who work hard all year to keep Bere Alston looking beautiful is celebrating winning two top South West in Bloom awards.

Bere Alston in Bloom members were thrilled to win gold in the ‘champion of champions’ category and also to come second out of 17 nominees in a new award sponsored by CPRE, the Countryside Charity for environmental work.

The village received this award for its extensive work surveying the plants, animals and insects of the village and its surrounding area,led by naturalist Martin Summers, who lives in the village.

Some of the volunteers, including outgoing chair of Bere Alston in Bloom Anne Sherrington, attended the awards ceremony at Truro Cathedral recently.

They had no idea they were going to win before they went along to the ceremony. ‘We were thrilled,” said Anne. She said the award was a fitting reward for all the hard work by the volunteers, from weeding to planting, to watering. It was particularly important to keep everything watered during the hot weather in June. “You have got to have the volunteers, that is key to this succeeding,” said Anne. “Community is one of our strengths in Bere Alston. In Alexandra Drive, for instance, there are two sisters who got everyone together and they managed to put all the pots out so the road was full of flowers. The judges had never seen a road full of pots before, they were just so impressed by that. People were also putting up their own displays too, nothing to do with us. It really was a community effort.”

The team was particularly chuffed with the environmental award, which reflects the hard work by committed naturalists each with their own strengths, in the village.

Anne added: “We did eight wildflower surveys around the area and obviously Martin was a key part of that and all that information went to the judges on the day. Biodiversity was our theme for 2022/2023.”

The village is a key breeding ground for Jersey tiger moths, once rare, but which are increasing in number with global warming.

As Martin explained, their surveys revealed how rich the plantlife is in parish. In their gardening around the village, the bloom team were also very ecologically minded, using sheep’s fleece to line recycled pots, something which seemed to encourage the growing and to keep the plants moist. The dog walking area in the village, at the end of Fore Street, was also praised by the judges. Here the bloom team planted species of apple tree native to the Tamar Valley.

The day of the bloom judges’ visit to the village on July 12, was a big occasion, with much weeding and watering. On the day, the cafe at Hope Cottage provided a base for the team.

“We would really like to thank Hope Cottage for their hospitality and allowing us a room on the day the judges came. They were really generous,” added Anne.