Posted: 17.09.21 at 15:30 by Councillor Joe Whibley (Exmouth Town Ward)
I was sat in the Strand Gardens in Exmouth last week, contemplating my imminent return to work in the maelstrom of a secondary school, and I suddenly noticed how amazing it looked.
Behind the street cafes and bustling tourists, dotted around like explosions in a Dulux factory are the magnificent flower displays created by Exmouth in Bloom.
And then I imagined how different Exmouth would look without them.
The nine painted fishing boats around the town (named after Exmouth lifeboats, I’m told), the huge tubs in the Strand, the displays around the station which turn what could have been a dull concrete area into somewhere attractive and make a good first impression on new visitors trundling out of the station.
As I wandered into the town, I saw members of Exmouth in Bloom were dotted around collecting money. Having deposited the contents of my pocket in one of the tubs, I got talking to a lovely lady called Sharon.
She explained how big their job is. Every month, a work party of volunteers tends to thousands of plants town-wide. That’s without considering growing and planting them in the first place.
A truly stunning undertaking for which I and, I’d hope, my fellow councillors applaud you all. We’re so grateful.
They also run friendship groups, and many other events which benefit the local community. As the years go by, they rely on new members joining - and I was surprised to learn that their youngest members are in their 50s. Joining is as big a commitment as you want it to be and any help is appreciated.
Those younger readers especially, who learned to love gardening during the long lockdown months, would be most welcome within the ranks.
Being a gardener of any skill is not a requirement, however - the traditional mainstays of an organisation such as this - cake and jam making - are always required for regular sales and there are administrative tasks that need carrying out too. A perfect opportunity to volunteer and make a visible difference to your town.
Finally, each year Exmouth in Bloom not only plant and maintain their displays, they also have to raise £11,000 to just maintain their current works, in addition to the £6,000 a year Exmouth Town Council contribute.
I call on my fellow councillors to join me in looking to increase that contribution. If we were to employ people to do this magnificent work, it would cost far more than the £17,000 Exmouth in Bloom need each year.
Let’s give them a bit more, cover their costs and let them concentrate on what they are here to do - make our town look beautiful.
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