Manor Royal hoping to be hailed bloomin' lovely for a second year
Manor Royal is hoping to again be among those honoured at the South and South East in Bloom competition following a visit by a judge this week.
The business district scooped a silver award last year and was hailed the overall winner for the Business improvement District category in the annual event and Manor Royal BID executive director Steve Sawyer is hoping for more of the same.
He met judge Jean Griffin on Monday morning at Crawter's Brook People's Park along with Sion Thaysen, of Allen Scott Architects, and Cllr Chris Mullins, portfolio holder for culture and leisure at Crawley Borough Council.
They walked to the centre of the park where they were joined by Kevin Lerwill, from Gatwick Greenspace, and Crawley Borough Council's conservation officer Janet Rose to discuss the merits of the People's Park, as well as its conservation value and importance to the area.
"The tour wasn't anything to do with hanging baskets," Mr Sawyer said. "It was about the horticulture, the environment, what we had achieved to date and how sustainable our plans for the future were. The commitment of businesses was also expressed to the judge and we hope she was impressed by what she found.
"From our point of view, the People's Park is really starting to fit the bill in creating a tranquil area for local business employees to visit and stimulate an interest in their natural environment whilst taking time out of the office. The park is also more established and attracting more wildlife, and the BID will continue to monitor its use and create volunteering opportunities for more businesses to be part of it."
Mr Thaysen added: "It has been incredibly gratifying for us, as designers, to see such a wide range of people using the park. Whether people are out on a lunchtime stroll, walking the dog, having lunch with friends or doing volunteer work, they seem to get a lot from being outdoors in nature.
"The chats the judge had with volunteers were particularly rewarding - I realised people take pride in being involved. There's a real difference if you can walk through a park and say ‘I planted those trees' or ‘I put up those bat boxes'. It's great - we want to do more of that kind of thing in the future."
During the hour-long tour, the South East in Bloom judge also spoke with members of staff from Manor Royal-based B&CE who have been working with Gatwick Greenspace on a variety of tasks, including the removal of the invasive Hamalayan Balsam, as part of a business volunteering programme.
Janine Lee, payroll and benefits specialist at B&CE, said: "Working in an office environment, the ability to escape during a break is so important. The People's Park has become really popular with the B&CE employees, and the ability to volunteer has been incredibly rewarding.
"Having the opportunity to work outside, with colleagues, in such a unique space not only enhances the team ethic it allows us to do something completely different to our working days."
At the front entrance to the People's Park and the picnic area, the judge spent time with Year 7 pupils from the nearby Gatwick School and headteacher Simon Ruscoe-Price and was told about the work students had done in creating bug hotels within the signage designed by Allen Scott and their plans to get involved in more work at the green space.
The competition is the cornerstone of communities and districts across the region but is also part of the largest horticultural campaign in Europe.
Entries are invited each year across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Surrey, Dorset and Wiltshire for communities to make positive and lasting sustainable improvements to their environments. Expert judges tour the region and award marks based on a range of criteria.
The briefing notes submitted to the judge also included a blog from Jenny Breeden, office administrator at Welland Medical, in which she speaks of her appreciation and the benefits of having the park so close to the office. She is also coordinating a team from Welland Medical, based in The Brunel Centre, Newton Road, to undertake a day's volunteering at the park.
"As a non-driver, I typically face an hour-long walk to and from work amongst traffic fumes," Jenny said. "I had become accustomed to this as my daily routine until I discovered a lovely little shortcut to work and found myself surrounded by nature instead of the industrial buildings and traffic. I couldn't believe that just a few feet away was my office.
"Taking just a couple of steps out of the business district and into Crawter's Brook, you are transported into a place of calm and natural beauty. I am keen to assist with volunteering projects linked to the People's Park or any other ventures that would further improve the working environment for all those working on Manor Royal."
The South and South East in Bloom awards ceremony takes place on Friday 11 September at Brighton & Hove Albion's American Express Community Stadium.