Meet Team GiB
Paul Spooner started his ‘In Bloom’ career by getting involved in Ash in Bloom for Ash Parish Council, and led on the Parish entries into South East in Bloom from 2011 to 2013. He joined Guildford in Bloom as a Borough Councillor in 2013 and has thoroughly enjoyed the last 9 years!
He has been Chairman since 2014, following the example set by previous Chairman Hon. Freeman Jennifer Powell.
Paul Says: “Guildford in Bloom primarily means ‘community’ to me. Whilst there is a competitive element to GiB, I primarily enjoy the engagement from the public across the Borough, and I have a particular soft spot for the enthusiasm and efforts of our younger members in the schools in bloom competition. In terms of knowledge, thanks to the horticultural knowledge of fellow Committee members, I have a much better understanding of fruit, veg and flowers than I had a decade ago!
The annual highlights are definitely the awards ceremonies, both Schools in Bloom and the main competition awards night, now held at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, however I am proudest of the ever increasing engagement in GiB from across our community.
I would like to see the competition continuing to develop, particularly focusing on sustainability and the challenges of climate change within the horticultural context. I hope that in 40 years every member of the community is involved in some way, from 4 to 104+!”
Shirley West got involved with Guildford in Bloom about Eight years ago when she entered her own garden. Her involvement escalated with Picnic in the Castle Grounds – as Shirley was President of Castle Green Bowling Club, they supported Guildford in Bloom by running the Tea and Cake Cafe.
This year Shirley has led the Schools Judging Team with Caroline Coleman.
Shirley says: “GiB means a lot to me working with a lovely committee being able to get involved with Guildford residents and their lovely gardens. I love meeting people and talking to them and especially the schools - the children are a delight to speak to and the pride they take in showing you around seeing the excitement on their little faces just wonderful.
The highlight for me is seeing the excitement on the faces of the winners especially on the Awards evening and meeting and greeting all those lovely children and people I had met on the
way to that special night.
I look forward to seeing GiB getting bigger and better in future years.
Mike spent several years of his career working for GBC Parks and Countryside Team, and was in post when Guildford in Bloom was first established. Following his early retirement in 2012 – he re-established his links with the group and is highly valued for his expertise.
His main role within the group is to organise the judging of the allotments. As a qualified horticulturalist and he also gets involved with many other general projects and provides the monthly garden tips for social media.
Mike says: “I have always lived in Guildford, and working within Guildford Borough Council for 34 years, I did my best to help keep the Borough a great place to live and work. Being able to be part of a group that strives to keep achieving this aim is therefore very important to me. The people within Guildford in Bloom also make it a pleasure to be involved. I have learned that working as part of a dedicated team is a great experience.
The highlight for me is meeting lots of great people and helping to encourage participants to enjoy gardening and often achieve more than they thought they were capable of. I hope that over the next 40 years GIB will continue what we are doing and adding new possibilities for enjoyment and the improvement of the natural environment. “
Deric first worked with Guildford in Bloom in 2017, when through his membership of Guildford Lions Club, he helped with driving Suki Lowres (then confined to a wheel chair) to judge schools participating in the schools competition. Seeing such enthusiasm amongst the participants made him want to find out more. Then realising Guildford in Bloom also focused on encouraging conservation of nature and having had a career in forestry and environmental management, he thought he would be able to contribute something.
Deric says; “I focus on, and input into, the environmental aspects of the Guildford in Bloom's committee. Where the competition is concerned, I input into the "Best site for Nature Conservation", "Best Garden for Wildlife", and "Best Neighbourhood Garden" categories.
I believe we all have roles to play in improving the conservation of nature, and through that making contributions towards mitigating Climate Change. I have seen that Guildford in Bloom addresses these elements and the public is responding favourably. I intend to enhance and build on these great achievements.
The highlight for me has got to be the annual Guildford in Bloom Competition; seeing the enthusiasm and dedication that so many people in Guildford commit to improving life in Guildford in many different ways.
I would like to see GIB continue to encourage the people of Guildford to keep improving our picturesque town and in so doing enhance the conserving of nature and the environment within Guildford and contribute, even in a small way, to mitigating climate change.”
Wildlife Team Member
Ailsa has lived in Guildford Borough for 46 years and always enjoyed the summer floral displays in the town and enjoyed taking her grandchildren to the Guildford in Bloom Picnic in the Castle grounds.
It was there that she decided to enter into the Wildlife category of Guildford in Bloom and was thrilled to achieve a Gold Certificate.
Ailsa says: “Initially I was asked to help with judging the 2020 photographic competition I was pleased to join the Guildford in Bloom Committee. My particular interest is encouraging wildlife friendly gardening and introducing children and newcomers to the joy of nature and growing things on their doorstep!
I hope that this new generation of gardeners will learn and adapt to the challenges with enthusiasm and imagination.”
PR and Social Media
Diana first joined the Guildford in Bloom Committee about 7 years ago. At that time the committee was struggling with finances and also getting the word out about the competition. She volunteered to help with poster production and social media.
Diana now manages GIB’s social media and PR and also supports the sponsorship team. It is Diana who posts across all GIB platforms with the expert advice from the rest of the committee.
Diana says: “Guildford in Bloom is something positive for people to get involved with. It is there to celebrate the wonderful gardens, community groups and businesses that get involved to make Guildford such a beautiful place to be. I’ve learned a lot about gardening and plants in the last 7 years, but I was starting from zero! The monthly gardening tips provided by Mike Beckwith have helped me with my garden – especially during lockdown. As a very amateur gardening I’m privileged to have such extensive knowledge on tap to help me with my little garden. I can still only identify a handful of plants though – relying heavily on our experts to provide names and descriptions of their stunning blooms.
The biggest highlight for me is engaging with those that participate in the competitions and their joy at winning and also the fantastic businesses that support and sponsor us to ensure we can continue to do what we do.”
Events and Projects
Jane has entered her pub, The Keep in Castle Street for several years - and has also been involved with hanging baskets and Picnic in The Castle Grounds - running the ever popular Pimm's Tent. She also hosts Guildford in Bloom Committee meetings.
Jane is going to be working to stage Picnic in the Castle Grounds and the annual Awards Ceremony where her experience in events will be invaluable.
Jane sees Guildford in Bloom as being a major 'feel good' event for Guildford and the community. She is always impressed by the enthusiasm of the participants and seeing what a win means to them.
Jane sees the future of Guildford in Bloom as including even more engagement with local communities to the benefit of wildlife preservation and the overall profile of the area.
Caroline joined Guildford in Bloom in 2019 and quickly became a key member of the Schools Team.
Caroline says: "GIB is a wonderful friendly competition for gardeners in our Borough. It is amazing to see how much pleasure and health benefits are derived from this hobby. No money is needed or the sky is the limit! A truly inclusive hobby."
Caroline's highlight of her time with Guildford in Bloom is Judging the Schools in Bloom Competition. Meeting the adults involved in school gardens and the children is an amazing part of the volunteering year. Blooming Picnic in the Castle grounds is so appreciated by the attendees and is a free event which is a good thing too.
To progress we need to continue our current offer and secure the help of new volunteers as roles become available on our committee. Our new supporters group helps share the load a busy times of the work we do on GIB.
Sponsorship and Judge
Rosemary has lived in Guildford for 30 years, and has always been a keen gardener. Her small town front garden is accessed via a path and provides lots of opportunity for people to chat over the garden gate about plants, flowers, and a many other things! Driving to Hammersmith every day for 25 years the garden was hugely relaxing to return to, and she first entered Guildford in Bloom around 8 years ago. She joined the committee a couple of years later, and now helps with sponsorship, and has judged a number of categories including schools, front gardens, containers, and in the last few years community and neighbourhood gardens.
Rosemary says – I am constantly amazed and excited by the gardens and projects in this category, and have been very touched by the welcome extended to the judges. To see people working together, having fun, getting to know their neighbours through gardening, and creating the loveliest plant and flower filled spaces is very special. The huge enthusiasm of everyone involved, is such a credit to Guildford, and this is reflected in the great support we have from our wonderful sponsors.