Bloomin’ marvellous

Some of the people who work behind the scenes at Filby in Bloom.
Picture: James Bass

Some of the people who work behind the scenes at Filby in Bloom. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

The stunning floral displays that have made Filby an award-winning village have also helped create a great sense of community, as Rachel Buller discovers

For more than 20 years, a team of volunteers has transformed the small Broadland village of Filby into an award-winning community, scooping top awards in both Anglia in Bloom and the Britain in Bloom competition. But their work and subsequent success goes well beyond the planting of the brightly coloured floral displays for which they are renowned.

The village’s commitment to improving where they live for all residents has seen the development of communal green spaces, education projects and community events.

Since first entering Anglia in Bloom in 1995, Filby, near Great Yarmouth, has won countless awards, regionally and nationally. Last year, they scooped the top award of best overall entry in the Anglia In Bloom awards and this year they have been shortlisted for a very special prize which means the army of volunteers are already working hard to ensure Filby looks better than it ever has before.

Community life

Village postmaster Adrian Thompson, who has been involved in Filby in Bloom since the start, says the benefits to the village have been immeasurable: “This year is very special for us as we have been entered in a Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions category, where we will be pitted against five other communities nationwide. It is a real honour and we are working incredibly hard to make sure we can be the best we can be.

“This time of year is when things get really busy. We order 16,000 plant plugs from a company in Scotland and have three greenhouses where our team of volunteers grow them on and then plant them out and start making the baskets. But it isn’t just the floral displays which are important, it is about enhancing community life and making Filby a better place to live for everyone. Twice a month, we visit Filby Primary School to work with the children and teach them a little bit about gardening and plants. They have such fantastic imaginations so we can find really fun ways to engage them.

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“Every Saturday morning, volunteers come along and spend a few hours doing all the jobs which need doing. It is a lot of fun and there is a great sense of community. There is always something to do all year round, whether it is planting, weeding, painting bins, cleaning signs or general odd jobs.”

Blossoming friendships

Derek and Caroline Nicker are both involved in Filby in Bloom, with gardening enthusiast Caroline donating her home-grown plants to the village beds.

“In Bloom is not just about flowers and plants, there are so many important facets to it which benefit the whole community,” says Derek. “It is not just about keeping the village looking beautiful and tidy, but also adding features for everyone to use, engaging people in projects and encouraging everyone to get involved.

“We have been working really closely with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and are currently developing a wildlife trail through the village. This year we have planted hundreds of wildflowers along the roadside and new hedgerows, which will attract wildlife. A few years ago we planted a community orchard full of Norfolk varieties of apples, and now people in the village can help themselves to fruit. I think Filby in Bloom is one of the reasons the village is such a friendly place to live.”

Joint focus

Percy Hudson is a retired carpenter and joiner and has lived in the village his whole life.

“I got involved right from the start as I thought it would be a really positive thing for the village but also something really interesting for me to do as well. I tend to do a lot of the woodwork when it is needed; this year we have made 14 new planters out of recycled timber as we are always trying to improve and add new features. Competing in Anglia in Bloom has been a really positive thing and has really brought the village together. People tend to move about more now and this is a really good way to get to know new people.

“I think we used to get a lot more litter but in recent years we have hardly any, and when people do see it they actually pick it up. I think everyone wants the village to look its best and now we all have a sense of pride in our community.”

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