South & South East in Bloom 2011

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Battle representatives at the SEIB Awards

Battle in Bloom entered the South & South East in Bloom competition for 2011 in the small categories category.  Over the past three months Battle Town Council and the BB volunteers have been preparing the town for the judging that occurred on 5th July 2011.  All along the route, BTC and BB had cleared the weeds and litter.  On the day, every bed, container and hanging basket was in full bloom with an explosion of colour covering the town and the sun shone. 

Battle in Bloom made a short presentation (text below) to the judges in the Abbey prior to their tour of the town.  Simon and Margaret accompanied the judges together with Ron Harris, Leader of the Council.  The route took them to Glengorse, Station Approach, the Cemetery, Chequers Dry Garden, Pilgrims Rest, the Abbey Green, Yesterdays World, Abbey Court, St Martins, the Twitten, Old Lady's Court, Mount Street, the Cherry Garden, Cherry Garden Allotments, Mountloy, Florence Cottages, Wellington Court, the Diamond Jubilee Bed, the Fire Station, the Oak Tree Bed, the Silver Jubilee Garden, the Police Station, the Saxonwood Community Garden, Market Square, the Rainbow Bed and, finally, the Almonry.  Along the way, they met BTC ground staff, BB volunteers and the Rainbows with their leader. At the end of the tour,the judges were interviewed by reporters from the Battle Observer and Discover Battle. 

Margaret stated after the judging " Battle is looking at its best and will continue to do so for the next two months.  The vibrant coluor scheme adoted this year has been a great success, and thanks go to the voluntary planting team, and to Turners Nursery in Uckham Lane for their guidance and expert advice. "

On 7th September 2011, at the SEIB Awards Ceremony at Fontwell Park, Battle won a Silver Gilt Award.  The Almonry won a Gold Award and Saxonwood Court won an Outstanding Achievement Award.
Presentation to the SEIB Judges:

Battle is an historic town.  Coaches arrive on a daily basis and groups of adults, students or school children make their way up the High Street to the Abbey Green and the Abbey. They have come for one thing and one thing only - to visit the Abbey and see the battlefield where in the year 1066, the army of King Harold met the forces of Duke William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings.   
Over a three day period, 945 years ago, 7000 Saxons and 7000 Normans fought for a land and a kingdom.  The battle was evenly fought until one man made a difference - the man who shot King Harold in the eye and left the Saxons leaderless.  The rest is history.   
Come forward 938 years to 2004 and, again, one man fired a proverbial arrow on a different battlefield.  On this occasion, the battlefield was Station Approach in Battle and the man, a local resident, Tony Perkins.   Tony, a former teacher at Battle and Langton School, was enraged that the first view of Battle for visitors arriving by train, was the litter strewn, overgrown and weed infested banks of the road leading away from the station. So in an act of Urban Terrorism, Tony gathered a group of 87 residents, removed all the weeds and brambles, all the cans, cigarette butts and dog fouling, and planted 3000 daffodil bulbs.  During the winter months, Tony kept weeding and tidying the area until, in Spring, the first glorious display of daffodils greeted the commuters and the visitors to Battle. 
This single act became the foundation of the voluntary organisation Beautiful Battle in its present form.   So, suddenly, Battle had two organisations looking after the floral look of Battle – Battle Town Council and Beautiful Battle.  At first, this was not at easy relationship.  Battle Town Council owned the land and did not want to hand over any responsibility to a voluntary organisation.  Beautiful Battle wanted to cultivate Council owned land that had needed more care and maintenance.   In addition, Beautiful Battle wanted to cultivate land owned by businesses that had become a refuge for litter and left to the wiles of nature.   Due to the efforts of Margaret Emeleus and Ron Harris, here present today, the Council, and its grounds staff, formed a working relationship with Battle’s volunteer army. 
Working in tandem, they began the task of transforming the visual impact of the town for residents and visitors.  
 Slowly more patches and areas in Battle were brought under control – weeds and litter were cleared, beds dug and manured, and plants and shrubs planted and watered.  Today there are 18 gardens, 58 planters and 110 hanging baskets maintained by the volunteers and the Council ground staff throughout the year.  
The main areas where visitors and residents congregate are – the Abbey Green, the Almonry, Market Square and the Recreation Ground.  In these areas, considerable effort was brought to bear to improve the visual impact.  These areas are in constant use – Market Square has markets twice a week, the recreation ground is used for sport and events such as the Battle Fair, and the Abbey Green is used for the farmers’ market and such events as the Medieval Fair.  
Battle Town Council and Beautiful Battle formed a joint body - Battle in Bloom to bring to bear the combined forces of the Town Council and the volunteers. This can be seen here where the Council ground staff and Beautiful Battle volunteers were preparing the hanging baskets at Turners Nursery for this years’ town display.   Battle in Bloom also oversaw the preparation of the town for South & South East in Bloom and will judge the local garden competition next week. Beautiful Battle, through its committee and members, links many organisations together – the Horticultural Society, the Choral Society, the Muffins, the 41 Club, the Flower Club, the Rotary Club, the Royal British Legion, Battel Bonfire Boyes, the Bowls Club, the Battle Club, and the Womens’ Institute.  Each of these either provides sponsorship or takes responsibility for one of the gardens.  For example, Battle Bonfire Boyes light up the town every Autumn with its parade through the town centre and the massive firework display in the Abbey grounds.  They also sponsored the dry garden at Chequers Corner that is maintained by Beautiful Battle’s volunteers.  The Battle Choral Society also sponsors a garden, which they maintain themselves, in the Twitten between Mount Street Car Park and the High Street.   
We also have links to local business. In all, we have access to 80 local businesses, 11 clubs and societies, 4 churches and 4 schools - all feeding into Battle in Bloom in one way or another.    
However, there is another community in Battle that is flourishing without volunteers and sponsorship that is the Community of Weeds.  They are doing very well.  They require no organisation.  All they require is to be left alone, plus a little rain and a little sunshine, and they flourish.  They are the constant enemy, along with those visitors and residents, who are happy to drop cans, bottles and paper everywhere and anywhere, other than the litter bins provided all over the town.  I would like to say that we will win this battle, but I think that this is a battle that is never over. 
We must all realise that times have now changed.  In these austere times, we can no longer rely on the services of East Sussex County Council Highways Agency or Rother District Council to provide the same services to Battle as they did in the past.  With budgets cuts and re-prioritisation, more and more is being pushed down to Town Council level and Battle relies on the Council and the volunteers.  We have now collectively had to take on new challenges and responsibilities without the necessary authority to do so.  We are learning to adapt to these changing times.  
Battle takes pride in its community 
We believe that one person can make a difference…… 
We have shown than many people can transform a town. 
Gentlemen, thank you for listening. We hope you enjoy your tour and the added colour in the town from the 70 scarecrows participating in the Battle Scarecrow Festival this week.

SEIB Judges at Station Approach


SEIB Judges in Almonry Inner Courtyard

The man who made a difference