Cross Keys Swing Bridge, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire



Big Bloomers logo
'Big Bloomers'

Sept 26 2013

Update: September 2013

At the beginning of the month a service was held at the RAF Propeller Memorial to honour the Fliers who lost their lives and who had connections to the Airfield which had been sited where the Industrial Site now stands. Thanks to the attentive care of Pam and Graham, also Rockie and Dave who did a ‘Litter pick’ in the morning, the whole area was an attractive place for the 20 – 30 members of the RAF, Air Training Cadets, British Legion and other dignitaries from Lincolnshire who attended the service and laid wreathes.  Thank you to all concerned.

A week later the Annual ‘Battle of Britain’ Service was held at the Church and all would have passed by another offering to the community by the Sutton Bridge in Bloom team as in the Church yard there is a bench and Containers which have looked attractive throughout the summer months.

The Community Garden near the Curlew Centre is beginning to take shape, a few plants have been planted and others as they arrive from the nursery will be set into their designated places.

These have been chosen carefully to make this, a colourful peaceful area for all to enjoy, both human and our native wildlife. We were delighted to see one of our ‘Gardeners’ Friends’ the Hoverfly arrive in numbers to drink the nectar of the blue flowered Caryopteris which had just been planted.

We would like to announce the official opening of the Community Garden is to be on Saturday 12th October at 11am by The Honourable Mr John Hayes MP. Please come and join us.

Mar 28 2013

Update: March 2013

Now that winter is almost gone and with spring waiting in the wings (although it is incredibly cold for the end of March and we’ve not long cleared away another load of snow), however, whatever the weather throws at us at this time of the year, members of the in-bloom team are busy making plans for their plantings for the forthcoming season.

With 4 member meetings having already taken place and agreements reached as to plant varieties, colours etc., the plants have now been purchased and are being looked after until they are older and strong enough to be planted out.  This normally happens at the end of May or early June.

Last year we undertook the renovation and planting of two new flowers beds at the Memorial Park.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints and lack of volunteers, we were only able to complete one of those gardens – The Diamond Jubilee Garden, and although now largely planted up, will continue to receive care and attention by the team (see above picture-left) with new plants being put in when necessary.  The other bed, which was named The Olympic Garden, will be worked this year. Plans for the garden have been drawn up and we are seeking assistance to have the plot cleared ready for planting and some hard landscaping for a seating area and pathways put in. Our picture on the right shows a volunteer making a start on the garden, but we have decided that it is too big a project for our small group to undertake without assistance during the first phase. 

When the hard landscaping is completed, the in-bloom group will then plant and maintain for the future.  Once the garden is completed, it will be renamed ‘Community Garden’.  A new painting will be installed which will be painted by a local artist aided by ‘assistants’.  This new artwork will show a montage of Sutton Bridge landmarks. The Olympic artwork which is currently at the back of the land will be moved to another part of the garden. This is an exciting project for the in-bloom group and any offers of help will be gratefully received. It is envisaged that the new garden, when completed, will be a welcome resting place for residents and visitors to sit and enjoy the pleasant surroundings of the garden.

We have two disappointing pieces of news. (1) We have reluctantly taken the decision not to enter The East Midlands in Bloom competition this year. There have been some changes within Sutton Bridge in Bloom (which I will touch upon later) and the team need time to re-organise themselves putting their time and effort into maintaining the areas already under our wing. We hope to be back in the competition in 2014 bigger and better, after all, we have a Silver Award standard to keep up. (2) This year we are not putting up hanging baskets. This was a hard decision for us to reach as we had maintained the goodwill of many businesses through our hanging basket sponsorship. However, many of the wall brackets need replacing and we do not have the resources to do this at present, but hope to be able to replace these throughout the year.  Additionally, the costs involved in supplying hanging baskets far exceed the sponsorship we receive for them.  We will be working on this problem and hope come up with a solution and be ready for a new sponsorship scheme in 2014.

As mentioned above, we have had a few changes within Sutton Bridge in Bloom.  We now have a new Chairlady – Roxane Freezor (Rocki) and we all wish her well in her new position. It is a difficult job to do and she will have the support of the whole team to help her through the early months.

Finally, to end on a piece of very good news - This year Sutton Bridge in Bloom were selected by Lincolnshire Co-operative as ‘Community Champions’.  This means that every time YOU shop in a Lincolnshire Co-op store and use your dividend card, Sutton Bridge in Bloom will receive a donation. So, during the next month or so please remember to use your dividend card and Sutton Bridge in Bloom will benefit. The scheme started on 3rd March 2013 and ends on 1st June 2013.  On 19th March a photo-shoot was held at the Sutton Bridge Co-op with members of SBiB and Co-op staff and hopefully an article with pictures will appear in the local newspaper. We are very grateful to Lincolnshire Co-op for giving us this funding opportunity and of course, very grateful to you, the shoppers.  As at 19th March, the total raised so far is £100. This is an amazing amount. Thank you everyone.

If you wish to help the Bloomers then please e-mail us at  You don’t need to become a member, you can just volunteer your time as and when you feel like it.

Feb 18 2013

February 2013



Oct 22 2012

Update - October 2012


We are delighted to tell you that at the East Midlands in Bloom Award Ceremony held at Spalding Festival Gardens on 12th September, the in-bloom team from Sutton Bridge picked up a Silver Award in the Small Town Category.

This award means a lot to the in-bloom team since we have battled against the odds this year to make sure that our town looked top notch both leading up to the judging and for the remainder of the season.

Teresa and Anita collecting the Silver Award on 12th September

A tremendous amount of work goes into the preparation of the village for judging. It all starts late the previous year when decisions are made as to colour schemes and types of plants required. Careful consideration is given to the types of plants chosen – what may do well in one position will not necessarily do well in another. All businesses are contacted early the following year to ascertain whether they are willing to sponsor a hanging basket or planter at their premises. Once all the replies are received, these are collated and decisions made as to the number of plants required. We then place our order. This is then, the beginning of a massive exercise – getting the baskets erected and the containers planted up. The watering and maintenance carry on throughout the season. All of this (together with the other tasks which the in-bloom undertake); with a volunteer force totalling only 10 willing souls is, in the view of the writer, pretty darn marvellous!!

Of course, it doesn't just stop once the judging is over and the awards collected. The in-bloom carry on working throughout the year to do their best for the village and to try and ensure that where possible, planters and garden areas are kept clean and tidy and when funds allow, planted with winter pansies to give colour over the dark days of winter.

Fundraiser – May 2012
The fundraiser held at St. Matthews Church on 26th May was very successful for the team. All of our stalls did well and the overall total made on the day and with additional sales gave us a fantastic total of £567. This is a wonderful result and is a great boost to our funds.

Artwork at Memorial Park Entrance
Visitors to the Memorial Park cannot have failed to notice the two marvellous paintings which have been erected this year. The first is a montage to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the other, another montage depicting The London Olympic Games – both major events in this celebratory year 2012. Our grateful thanks to Mark Reynolds, Art Teacher at The Peele Community College, who took on board the ideas of the in-bloom team and together with his students, transformed those ideas into the artwork which you see today. Another fine example of local entities working together for the good of the community.

Work on the garden with the Diamond Jubilee painting (The Diamond Jubilee Garden), has already started and there are now the beginnings of a permanent planting scheme at the garden. Further work and planting will take place during the autumn. The Olympic Garden has yet to be started, but an outline planting scheme has been drawn up and there are also plans for a hard landscaping area and seating within that garden.

All in all, it has been a very good year for the in-bloom team. We have achieved an enormous amount for Sutton Bridge, although sadly, all too often our efforts go unnoticed by much of the community.

It is difficult to believe that in a community exceeding 4000 people, we can only muster up a total of 10 volunteers for the in-bloom group. If you can help us in any way, please do contact us (as below). We cannot continue to expand unless more people come forward to volunteer.

If you wish to help the Bloomers then please contact us either via this website or e-mail us at You don't need to become a member, you can just volunteer your time as and when you feel like it.

Sutton Bridge in Bloom - Annual Fundraiser

Sutton Bridge in Bloom are holding their Annual Fundraiser at St. Matthews Church, Sutton Bridge on

12 noon – 4.00 p.m.
Items for sale include
Plants, Bric-a-Brac, Books
DVDs, CDs, Handmade Cards
Refreshments are available including homemade cakes and biscuits
Raffle – Tombola

Keep Sutton Bridge Blooming
by coming along and supporting your local In-Bloom team

All monies raised on the day by SBiB will be
used for our voluntary ‘In-Bloom’ work within Sutton Bridge

Apr 19 2012

Update - April 2012

In April 2011, I wrote a report which gave the history of the bulbs which we had obtained, free of charge from Top Score Bulbs, Baytree Nurseries and Taylors Bulbs – all in Spalding.  These bulbs were planted over a period of time with the last lot going in around March 2011.

The fruits of our labours are now evident from Bridge Road right through to the East Bank.  The pictures shown below do not do justice to the wonderful display which these bulbs have given over a period from early February until now, and are still going strong.  Indeed, the east bank is a joy to behold and one would be hard put not to agree that they are a very welcoming sight when entering our village.

A general view from east bank looking towards the bridge

We will be looking to build on this success and plant more bulbs over the coming autumn/winter; although I think we need to look at possible planting sites carefully so that we do not cause the grass cutter too many problems.  If you know of a public site that needs prettying up with spring bulbs, do please let us know, or even better, come along and help us with the planting.

We will be planting bulbs in our new beds at the entrance to the Memorial Park so that in spring 2013 these beds should look a picture well before the summer planting shows itself. We have already planted winter aconite and snowdrops under the large tree at the entrance to the Memorial Park.  These bulbs were donated by a Sutton Bridge resident.  It is unfortunate that the area under the tree has been sprayed with weed killer by an unknown person – let’s hope it hasn’t caused too much damage and that eventually the grass will grow back and can be regularly cut by the in-bloom team.  Whether the planted bulbs will survive the spraying, remains to be seen.

Sincere thanks are extended to all those who helped with the bulb planting, ex-Bloomers and other volunteers including Community Payback – we couldn’t have done it without all the extra ‘hands’.

The above are a particularly pretty variety of small tulip which flowers much earlier than the normal varieties.  This was up and flowering end February/early March.

General view at east bank (bordering A.17)

If you wish to help the Bloomers then please contact us either via this website or e-mail us at  You don’t need to become a member, you can just volunteer your time as and when you feel like it.

Mar 4 2012

Update - March 2012

2012 will be a busy year for the in-bloom team here in Sutton Bridge as there are a few new areas which we have undertaken to transform from litter and weed ridden patches of earth into lovely gardens for the enjoyment of all residents. 

After getting the appropriate permissions from the Parish Council work has now started on the garden at the front of the Memorial Park (on the right hand side as you enter).  This was once a lovely area for sitting and watching the world go by, but in recent years has fallen into a state of disrepair with slats broken on the bench and the ‘garden’ being completely overrun with weeds and litter.  Not an area you would necessarily choose to sit for a rest!  However, we have now cleared away the litter, removed the ‘weed suppressing’ material, completely dug over the area and cleared all the earth away from under the bench, which has revealed a small hardstanding on which the bench sits.  Our clearing has also revealed that the pathway runs along in front of the bench right up to the entrance of the Memorial Park.  One of our team is currently drawing up a plan for the planting of this garden and we hope to start this during April/May.

Anita & Janet ‘Taking it Easy’
Teresa still working!

As you can see from the pictures above, our hard work has already paid off and the garden is beginning to take shape.

We have also just received permission to do a garden in the area between the Anglia Water station and the existing public toilets.  This is a much larger area to work and will take us quite some time to complete with work not being started until the smaller garden at the front of the entrance is almost completed.  Again, plans are being drawn up for this area and we envisage that in the main, it will be commemorative garden in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and of course, the London 2012 Olympics.  We hope that when the work on these two garden areas is complete, the entire area with its new Community Centre, will be transformed and will be a welcome vista to residents and visitors.

All letters regarding sponsorship for hanging baskets and containers have gone out to the businesses and we are pleased to report that to date, the responses have been extremely good, which is a relief to the in-bloom team.  We are very grateful to those businesses which still continue to support us.  The planted baskets will be put out end May early June (depending on the weather) with the permanent containers being planted out around the same time.

We have an enormous amount of work to do on the other areas which we maintain and because we have such a small volunteer force, it is not always possible for us to do as much as we would like – so, if you see an area which the Bloomers usually look after, which is rather looking forlorn, please don’t think we have forgotten about it, we will get around to it before too long.

On Saturday 26th May the in-bloom team will be holding a fundraiser at St. Matthews Church.  We will have a refreshment stall selling homemade cakes and biscuits, bric-a-brac stall and of course, a plant stall.  We will also be holding a raffle.  Please come along and support your in-bloom team.  Further details will be advertised nearer the time.

Members of Sutton Bridge in Bloom team at the Fun Day held in the Memorial Park, August 2011

Of course, I cannot finish this report without mentioning our watering hero who stepped up to the plate to help us in 2011.

During the early part of 2011 Mr. Martyn Baxter of Baxter’s Fish Shop offered assistance to the Bloomers by building a portable water carrier (see picture below) complete with all the necessary equipment and provided a storage area for the water carrier when not being used.  It is without a doubt, that had we not been the recipients of such a generous gesture, we would have found it nigh impossible to carry out a watering regime for all our planters as all we had for the transportation of water was large plastic bottles!

If you wish to help the Bloomers then please contact us either via this website or e-mail us at  You don’t need to become a member, you can just volunteer your time as and when you feel like it.  If you are not a keen gardener, there are many other activities with which we are involved.  Why don’t you give us a try? 

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Dec 23 2011

Sutton Bridge in Bloom - 2011

'Big Bloomers Christmas Message'

"A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters"

Sept 23 2011

Sutton Bridge in Bloom - 2011
'Big Bloomers'

Update: September 2011

The East Midlands in Bloom Awards Ceremony was held at Oadby & Wigston, Leicestershire on Wednesday, 14th September. Sutton Bridge was represented by two volunteers from the in-bloom team, Anita and Teresa. The venue for the Ceremony was superb and we were all well looked after by the organisers.

We are absolutely delighted to win three awards for our town (1) The East Midlands in Bloom Award for Best Wildflower & Conservation Area (2) Judges Award for Bloomers for their wonderful floral enhancements across the town and (3) Bronze Award in the Small Town Category.

The East Midlands in Bloom Award for Best Wildflower & Conservation Area
The East Midlands in Bloom Award to Sutton Bridge for the Best Wildflower & Conservation Area

The East Midlands in Bloom Judges Award for Bloomers
The East Midlands in Bloom Judges Award to Sutton Bridge 'Bloomers'

The East Midlands in Bloom Bronze Award in the Small Town Category
The East Midlands in Bloom Bronze Award to Sutton Bridge in the Small Town Category

As many of you will have seen, the hanging baskets this year were particularly poor and because of that, we did not expect to win anything. However, you can imagine how surprised and pleased we were to have come away from Leicestershire with 3 awards. The competition from all over the region was extremely high and it is very interesting to see how other communities cope with problems which are common to all. Sutton Bridge was ONE POINT off from receiving a Silver Award this year so, for 2012 we have to work even harder to improve enough to gain that extra point.

Despite all the hard work done by Sutton Bridge in Bloom and the volunteers who come out and help, we do not have time to sit back and rest – we are now drawing together our plans for 2012.

If you have any ideas on plantings for 2012, do please let us know and if you can spare an hour now and again, we would love you to join us.


We will be back on these pages soon to give you an update on our activities and outline plans for 2012 and, as promised in our August article, we will tell the story of how, this year, our watering problems were solved.

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Aug 12 2011

Sutton Bridge in Bloom - 2011
'Big Bloomers'

Update: August 2011

As previously advised, The East Midlands in Bloom Judges visited Sutton Bridge on the afternoon of Thursday, 14th July. Luckily the weather was good and we had no rain, which made walking around the village very pleasant.

It was fortunate that this year, the judging coincided with the first day of the Flower Festival at St. Matthews Church and so we were able to incorporate a tour of the Flower Festival into our judging route. This was a bonus for the Bloomers as community based functions which show involvement within the community; do rate highly in the overall scoring process. The judging process itself also takes account of general planting, use of recycle materials, care of common areas and general cleanliness of the streets.

As many of you are aware, this year the majority of our hanging baskets are just not up to scratch. Although we would have preferred to make up the baskets ourselves, lack of facilities and shortage of volunteers, made this impossible. We therefore chose a company based in Derbyshire, who came very highly recommended, to do these for us. The instruction given to the company was 'hot colours and plenty of plants'. We have ended up with neither. Obviously, all of the sponsoring businesses pay something towards these baskets and although the majority of the cost is met by the Bloomers, it is totally unacceptable to us that the company involved has shown no interest whatsoever in trying to remedy the situation. We are still trying to get that company to accept some degree of liability, but at the date of this article, they seem reluctant to meet or enter into any further dialogue with us.

We shall have to wait until mid-September to learn the results of the judges deliberations and despite the sad state of our hanging baskets, we are hopeful that the judges will see past that and reward our efforts as a whole. We shall let you know how we got on, towards the end of September.

On a brighter note, we were able to install 4 new containers within the village this year. Every permanent addition by way of planters, which we are able to make to the street scene, can only enhance our village for the future and we will endeavour to make new additions each year. If anyone can think of viable ways in which we can further brighten up the village, please let us know. All ideas are given due consideration and where possible, acted upon.

Bed on the village green almost fully planted for 2011
Bed on the village green almost fully planted for 2011

On a warm sunny day in early June we held our first Fundraising event. Although not as well attended as we would have liked, at the end of the day we raised over £270 from a plant stall, bric-a-brac stall and a tea tent with homemade cakes and biscuits. We also held a raffle with some of the prizes being donated by local businesses. Subsequent plant sales from outside the home of a member resulted in a further £39 being added to our funds. We will be looking to hold another fundraising event in 2012. The Bloomers will also have a stand at the Gala Day being held in the Memorial Park on 27th August and we hope to meet some of you on the day.

Bloomer Fundraising Event
Bloomer Fundraising Event

As always, the In-Bloom team are looking for volunteers. If there is any way in which you think you can help – do please let us know. An hour of your time whenever you can spare it will make the world of difference to us – we can only move forward in an effective way if we have more volunteers.


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July 4 2011

East Midlands in Bloom - 2011

The East Midlands in Bloom (“EMiB”) Judges will be visiting Sutton Bridge on THURSDAY, 14TH JULY at 2.00 p.m.

Whilst the Bloomers are trying their very best to ensure that Sutton Bridge will be clean and tidy for the day, we only have a small volunteer force and have to rely heavily on the goodwill of residents and businesses alike to ensure that the areas immediately outside their houses or premises are in tip top condition. Please help us if you can.  On the day it is SUTTON BRIDGE on show – let us be proud of it.

Hopefully, the weather will be good and the town looking nice for the Judges.

We will be back on these pages in late July to give you an update on our activities and our views on the judging day. 

Apr 4 2011

At long last, it seems as though spring is here, the buds on the trees are slowly unfurling to green and flowering bulbs are everywhere – glorious heralds of spring and the summer to come.

The Big Bloomers and many volunteers helped with the mammoth task of planting trays and trays of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other assorted bulbs (these others only to be discovered when they flower). The Bloomers, along with other South Holland in Bloom teams, were fortunate enough to be given free bulbs by Baytree Nurseries and Taylors Bulbs – due to the early snow which came in November and carried on through until well after Christmas, those two companies found themselves with masses of bulbs which had not been sold. If these bulbs had not been given away, they may well have been destroyed. This was to our benefit and on a Sunday in January, some Bloomers went off to Baytree and collected a bounty of bulbs. In addition, in response to a plea by the Bloomers, 4 giant sacks of daffodils were given to us last October by Top Score Flower Bulbs in Spalding. All in all, we estimate that we probably had in excess of 10,000 bulbs to plant.

We're happy to report that over the period from January right up to late March, all these bulbs have now been planted. You can actually see some of these flowering in some of the containers and in the grass verge just over the bridge at East Bank. We didn't expect too much of a display for this year as the bulbs did go in rather late due to the harsh winter, but next year the effect should be stunning. We also aim to extend our bulb planting efforts at the end of this year. In 2012 Sutton Bridge should be awash with spring flowering bulbs – what a welcome to our village.

Two Bloomers hard at it during the bulb planting marathon
Two Bloomers hard at it during the bulb planting marathon

All our letters regarding sponsorship, have gone out to the businesses and we are pleased to report that the response has been greater than in 2010. You should see a larger expanse of flowering baskets and containers this year, although of course, there will be pockets where there are none, but, if each year we can add more to the scheme either by more businesses joining the sponsorship scheme or by public planting, then the effect from the west end right through to the east end of the village will be much more noticeable. In addition, we have opted to go for a common colour scheme throughout the village so that the effect of the plantings will be instantly visual. The chosen scheme for 2011 is based on colours from the 'hot' spectrum.

Our last litterpick was held in March and we hope to arrange another litterpick in the not too distant future. When we have a suitable date, the event will be advertised – look out for our notices – please join us if you can.

If you wish to help the Bloomers then please contact us either via this website or e-mail us at You don't need to become a member, you can just volunteer your time as and when you feel like it.

Finally, we have to end on a very sad note.

Our dear friend and colleague Elizabeth Ranson passed away suddenly on 18th February. Elizabeth was a founder member of Big Bloomers and was a sincere and genuine person. She started the group because she had a desire to 'pretty up' Sutton Bridge. She was extremely keen in everything she did for Bloomers and took on all tasks with an amazing degree of willingness – even sweeping part of Bridge Road prior to judging last year. She is missed terribly by us all and it is true to say that the group is the poorer for her passing.

Although a lot has yet to be achieved, we believe that Elizabeth's dreams for Sutton Bridge are part way to coming true.

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Mar 8 2011

As arranged, 6 Bloomers and a regular volunteer met at the Medical Centre on Saturday morning (5th March) for the first of our litter picks for 2011. We were really pleased to be joined by two volunteers (Helen and Marie), who had seen our posters and were keen to join our efforts to keep Sutton Bridge clean.

Litter pickers

Despite the drizzle and dark clouds, we had a very successful litter pick and collected 16 bags of rubbish.

The areas selected for this litter pick were:-

♦ Railway Lane North (including walkway to Falklands from Railway Lane).
♦ Arnie Broughton Walk and part of Memorial Park
♦ Bridge Road (going west from Railway Lane)

Because of the low turnout of volunteers we were not able to do both sides of Bridge Road nor were we able to do Railway Lane in its entirety. However, the areas not covered by the pick on Saturday, will be targeted on our next outing.

Litter collected

Keep looking out for our posters advertising our next litter pick. We would love you to join us. The more volunteers who come forward to help, the larger the area that can be cleared.

The Big Bloomers are a group made up entirely of volunteers who give their time and energies freely, but we do rely on the help and goodwill of all Sutton Bridge residents to help us achieve a cleaner and better town.

Dec 20 2010

Christmas is nearly upon us and all thoughts of gardening are far from our minds at present. Having said that, we still have to put our plans in place for planting in 2011. We shall be considering a colour scheme for our planting throughout the village and will be canvassing all of our members for their views on the colour choice. The idea of having a colour scheme was suggested by the East Midland in Bloom Judges when they visited us in July. Their reasoning is sound bearing in mind the geography of the main planting areas. When viewed on foot or from a vehicle, the visual impact will be much stronger. The plants in each container/basket do not need to be identical, just as long as we have the correct colour mix.

In January/February 2011 we will again be asking local businesses if they wish to participate in the floral arrangements. The problems with watering which dogged the Bloomers during 2010 should be resolved by next year which would mean that the onus for watering is taken away from the businesses and direct into the care of the Bloomers. This makes more sense and will remove the need for the businesses to concern themselves with this chore.

Unsurprisingly, the litterpick arranged for 30th November had to be cancelled due to the weather. A few days prior to the litterpick we had our first snowfall of winter and this layer of snow covered a multitude of sins. However, since the thaw (however temporary), it has shown up the terrible state of our streets through indiscriminate litter dropping. We will of course, set a new date for a litterpick in the New Year, but it would be nice if more people took the trouble to put their litter in the many bins which we now have in the village.

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Sept 26 2010

A lot has happened since our last article in June. I had promised to let you have our views on how we felt the East Midlands in Bloom judging of Sutton Bridge, which took place on 7th July, had progressed. However, following the judging, quite a few Bloomers took a well-earned rest (the author included) and I’m afraid other events overtook us. Although we have not been as visible around the village as we were in the few weeks prior to judging, I can assure you that Bloomer activity has carried on relentlessly.

Now for the good news. Two Bloomers (Liz and Teresa), attended the East Midlands in Bloom awards ceremony which was held at the Guildhall in Northampton on 15th September. Much to our surprise and absolute delight, Sutton Bridge won a Bronze Award in the Small Town Category together with a Judges Award for the ‘Inspirational work of the “Big Bloomers” in developing pride in the local area’. To have won these two accolades in our first year as an in-bloom volunteer group is marvellous and, as mentioned in my last report, these awards should be considered as wins for Sutton Bridge as a community, and as such, I hope that everyone will take pride from such good news.

Teresa & Liz with the EMiB Awards for Sutton Bridge
Teresa & Liz with the EMiB Awards for Sutton Bridge

East Midlands in Bloom Bronze Award for Sutton Bridge

East Midlands in Bloom Judges Award for Sutton Bridge

However, we don’t have time to rest on our laurels; there is still much work to be done before the end of the gardening year. All of the containers around the village need to be rejuvenated and planted with winter pansies to give a bit of colour over the winter months. The large flower bed off Falklands Road will be dug over, weeded and planted with wallflowers. The RAF Memorial bed, which was completely renovated in late June and planted out with geraniums for the summer months, will be cleared, planted with pansies and under planted with bulbs which should give a lovely display next Spring. It was especially rewarding to see the RAF Memorial looking so good in time for the annual service which is held there on the first Sunday in September to remember all those who served there and to commemorate the opening of the RAF Station on 1st September 1926. The flower bed at the foot of the Sutton Bridge sign on the village green will also be cleared of its summer bedding and planted with winter pansies. All of the hanging baskets will be removed, cleaned up and stored until next season.

In late July, new litter bins were installed to replace the metal litter bins (known as the ‘enhancement bins’), and the Bloomers were lucky enough to have been ‘gifted’ the metal bins by SHDC to use as planters. As these planters are quite strategically situated in the village, it was thought to be a good opportunity to use the same flowers in all of the planters so that it could be seen as part of a scheme. Unfortunately, our scheme was obviously far too attractive as the majority of the planters have had plants stolen. The planter near the bus stop at the junction of Bridge Road and Falklands Road was vandalised within an hour of us completing the planting and all the plants have now disappeared from that container. This is particularly saddening insofar as all the funds that the Bloomers have for such planting, come from outside sources and donations by Sutton Bridge residents and it is therefore quite difficult for us to find enough funds to replace stolen or vandalised plants. However, we will not let the few spoil it for the majority and we will continue to try and make changes through our plantings that will benefit the community of Sutton Bridge.

In the near future we hope to be able to organise a litter pick and it would be wonderful if some of you could join us for this event. These litter picks do a lot to improve the look of our village and show visitors that this is a community that cares about its surroundings. We will publicise the litter pick and the meeting point in due course. We hope to see you then. Black bags will be provided and we will have a limited number of pick-up sticks available on the day. The more volunteers we have for this event, the larger the area we can cover. All you need to bring with you is a stout pair of gloves.

As with all volunteer groups, Bloomers are always looking for new volunteers. It is not all hard work! Everyone does only what they feel able to do and give the time that they feel able to. So, if you feel like joining our happy group, please contact us via

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Jun 29 2010

Not long after our last article for Bridge Watch, the Bloomers were advised of the date when the East Midlands in Bloom (“EMiB”) Judges would be visiting Sutton Bridge. The date arranged for the judging is the afternoon of 7th July 2010.

As a consequence of this, we have been extremely busy completing all our planting arrangements and checking on existing schemes to make sure they are all in good order. We have drawn up a route for the judging tour and did a ‘dry run’ one evening so that we could ensure we fell within the 2 hour limit allotted for the judging. Unfortunately, we exceeded that 2 hours by 15 minutes, probably due to too much talking! We’ve set out a rota for tasks to be undertaken by the Bloomers between now and judging day. One of tasks will be litter picking. However, we are hopeful that the businesses and households fronting on to Bridge Road will join into the spirit of the judging day and keep their general areas clean and tidy. It would be nice if members of the general public would also pick up stray pieces of litter when they are walking through the village.

On Friday, 25th June we had a press event at the Old Barn in recognition of the artwork which had been erected the previous Friday. We were fortunate in that three students from The Peele Community College were able to attend together with the pupils from Westmere CP School, all of whom were involved in the paintings. Two pictures from the range on view at the Old Barn are shown below. The picture from The Peele CC collection was chosen entirely at random – the paintings are so good it is not possible to select one as being better than another.

Painting by pupils at Westmere CP School, Sutton Bridge
Painting by pupils at Westmere CP School, Sutton Bridge

Painting by students from The Peele Community College, Long Sutton
Painting by students from The Peele Community College, Long Sutton

If you’ve not yet seen this wonderful display, do go along and have a look.

In our last update we mentioned the Old School and our disappointment and not being able to find a local artist to paint a schoolroom scene on one of the large arched windows. Our fortunes changed soon after that article was written and the resulting picture showing a teacher with her pupils is a real joy. The Big Bloomers are indebted to Maureen Hunt who drew the design and her “assistant” Janet Blundell, who helped Maureen with the painting.

Sutton Bridge Old School painted windows
Do you recognise anyone in this picture?

Our first Big Bloomer year is now complete and it has become apparent that there is a lot of positivity in Sutton Bridge and a genuine willingness amongst many residents to see the village flourish and become a community once again. We are sure that with enough goodwill, this could happen.

We all need to remember that should Big Bloomers be fortunate enough to win a prize in the EMiB Competition, it should be considered a win for Sutton Bridge and not the individual members who make up the volunteer force of Big Bloomers.

Our next update will be in July/August when, although we will not know the result of the Judges’ deliberations, we will be able to let you have our views on the judging day.

If any of the above activities interest you and you feel you would like to get involved, please contact us via

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Jun 1 2010

Big Bloomers activity around Sutton Bridge has stepped up a gear or two since our last news page in February.

The warmer weather has enabled us to make a start with our planting programme for the year. During the winter we were fortunate enough to have been able to purchase 5 livestock drinking troughs, which we have slightly altered so that they can be used as planters. Our public spaces planting kicked off with one of the troughs being installed on the east side of the A.17 (just over the bridge towards the Norfolk county border). Two further troughs are now in place on the grass verge at the junction of Falklands Road and Bridge Road. In addition, two custom-made wooden boxes have been put in place around the Sutton Bridge town sign and the metal arch at the village green end of town. The planted beds that were renovated last year have also received further attention, and this is an ongoing task. The bed surrounding the RAF Memorial will be completely overhauled this year and once the existing flowering shrubs and bulbs have finished their Spring display, work will start on this project. It is intended that this bed will be finished and looking good well in time for the service held at the Memorial in September.

ewly planted trough on the A17
Newly planted trough on the A.17 – East of the bridge

We have also started to put in place some of the containers requested by the businesses and this should be completed by early June. With regard to the hanging baskets, the plants will be delivered to us during the week of 24th May and we should be able to put up the baskets in the following two weeks after that.

Watering still remains a constant concern to the Bloomers. Whilst the businesses have undertaken to water their baskets/containers, the other areas which are looked after by the Bloomers are problematical. We are fortunate in that we do have a few people who are helping us with the watering and we are very grateful to them. However, large areas remain unwatered and we need to try and resolve this. If there is anyone who has ideas as to how we can meet this challenge, do please let us know.

The school painting projects are now almost complete and we hope to see the painted boards in place at the Old Barn by early June. We are liaising with Westmere CP School and The Peele Community College to fix a date for the painted boards to be put in place. Thereafter, we will arrange with the local press to come down and take some pictures of the artwork, and hopefully the pupils from both schools involved in this activity, will be able to meet the press and talk over the project. The board painting at the Old School has hit difficulties when the local artists who originally agreed to be involved in the scene painting, had to withdraw due to illness. Other artists were approached, but decided that the task was much too large and declined. Despite this set back, the Bloomers have continued with their efforts in replicating the original window design on the large arched window and painting floral window boxes on the remaining boards. Unfortunately we will not have the envisaged classroom scene on the arched window, but the school does now look better for its ‘face lift’, and the window boxes should be finished very shortly.

At last the After School Gardening Club has started at Westmere. The first club was held on Thursday 20th May with 10 pupils from classes 1 & 2 being involved. Plenty of vegetable and salad seeds were sown together with some sunflowers. The next club date is Wednesday 26th May for pupils in classes 5 & 6. With the exception of school holidays, club days will be every Wednesday (classes 5 & 6) and every Thursday (classes 1 & 2) from 3.15 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Our first information leaflet was distributed in the town in April. If future funds permit, we hope to be able to issue two further leaflets this year.

View of the bus stop area in Bridge Road - before work began
View of the bus stop area in Bridge Road opposite the Nightingales before work began

View of the bus stop area in Bridge Road -  after work completed
Same view (slightly different angle) after work completed

Litter picking has still not recommenced as talks are ongoing with the authorities to try and find a resolution to the litter problems faced by Sutton Bridge. There now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel and we may well see more conventional bins installed in the town, which should make litter collection easier. Hopefully, there will be sufficient funds to have bins put on the A17 lay-bys’ situated on each side of the road just east of the bridge. If that were to happen, then it might go a long way towards resolving the major litter problems which occur on that stretch of the road (provided of course, that the bins are regularly emptied).

Unfortunately, petty theft and vandalism do occur in the town, and Bloomers are not exempt from these acts. It seems sad that the very people who are trying to work for a better Sutton Bridge for all, should be targeted in this way, but we vow to continue with our work despite these unsocial activities.

When we next write, we should have a date for the visit to Sutton Bridge by the East Midlands in Bloom Judges. It would be so good for the town if we were able to win a prize at this prestigious event. It would be the second such award for Sutton Bridge following the first win in 2001.

If any of the above activities interest you and you feel you would like to get involved, please contact us via

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Feb 13 2010

Despite the appalling winter weather, which threatens to go on and on, the Bloomers have been very active.

As we are entering Sutton Bridge in the East Midlands in Bloom competition for 2010, we have written to all of the businesses that front onto Bridge Road and a few that are just off the main thoroughfare asking if they are willing to participate in the competition. Businesses are being offered the opportunity to have a container, hanging basket or half-moon basket outside their premises. All containers/baskets will be provided fully planted. As the Bloomers do not have an income and rely solely on grants and gifts, it has been necessary to ask the businesses to pay a small charge for the planted item which will go towards recouping our costs on this venture. Although we have not yet collected all the responses from the businesses, the take-up to date has been excellent.

Sutton Bridge sign on village green
Sutton Bridge sign on village green - This bed was completely dug out and replanted during June/July 2009. The bed now contains a good degree of permanent planting and will have summer annuals added each year. Bed also underplanted with bulbs.

At the same time, we have been given permission by the owners of the Old Barn and the Old School (both fronting onto Bridge Road) to paint the boards which are protecting the windows. To this end, we have enrolled the help of Westmere CP School who, through the Head Teacher, Mrs. Smith, have agreed to paint one window board at the Old Barn. We are also in talks with the Peele School who are hoping to be able to paint the remaining three boards at the barn. With regard to the Old School, Sutton Bridge Art Club have been approached to see if are able to get involved with painting at this site. The Bloomers have decided on themes for both areas, farming and animals at the Old Barn and classrooms and school activities at the Old School. For both these projects Bloomers will be providing all the required paint and additional plywood for placing on top of the existing boards

We are also working with the Head Teacher at Westmere School, to start an after hours Gardening Club. This would involve two separate age groups at the school on different afternoons with each session lasting between 1 to 1.5 hours. We will be planting up different vegetables and some flowers. It’s hoped that some of the parents will also get involved in this venture as watering will be a problem during the school holidays.

Litter picking has been put on hold for the time being as we are meeting with the Portfolio Holder, Environmental Services at SHDC shortly to discuss problem areas and emptying of litter bins. Hopefully, following that meeting, the major problem areas (i.e., A.17 from the bridge to the Norfolk County sign), will be thoroughly cleaned and looked after on a regular basis. We will be seeking the provision of a litter bin for the lay-by on each side of the A.17. The Bloomers will then continue with their litter picks in order to keep the town looking clean and tidy.

Billy's flower bed - outside Billy Swallow's shop
Billy's Bed - this shows the bed outside Billy Swallow's shop close to the Bridge Hotel. In 2009 Bloomers cleaned this bed of litter, pruned or dug out overgrown shrubs. Planted new shrubs and flowers and underplanted with bulbs.

We had a sad start to the year when one of our founder members and dear friend Pat Weir, passed away suddenly. Pat will be much missed by the Bloomers. She had tremendous enthusiasm for the project and was always a good source of ideas. Her humour and infectious laugh was always present on our many ‘dig and weed’ days. It was a pleasure to have known her and she will be greatly missed.

If any of the above activities interest you and you feel you would like to get involved, please contact us via

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The Big Bloomers are a small group of people who share the same vision and that is to help make Sutton Bridge a more desirable place in which to live and to visit.

The Big Bloomers on the Falklands estate in Sutton Bridge

We were established in June 2009 with a core of 6 people and we have now grown to a total of 14 active members. Since June we have worked tirelessly on refurbishing existing planting schemes and indeed have made a completely new garden bed on the Falklands estate at the junction of Falklands Road and Harriet Close. You may well have seen us around the town in our yellow Bloomer jackets planting, tidying and also doing litter picks.

The Big Bloomers litter picking volunteers

East Midlands in Bloom Winners 2001In 2010 the Bloomer group will be entering the East Midlands in Bloom competition, and we hope to build on the success that Sutton Bridge achieved in that competition a few years ago.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the help and assistance we have received from companies in and around Sutton Bridge. In the case of funding, this year we were fortunate enough to receive a donation from Sutton Bridge Power Station and a further sum from the Parish Council.

In addition to funding, we have received very welcome support from Scott’s Miracle Grow who have provided us with all our soil requirements, Shire who have provided lengths of wood, cut to size for our planting boxes and Ian of Beautiful Gardens who dug out and rotovated the new garden bed at the Falklands. In addition, there are people who have helped us with watering, vital during the dry summer months, and we have also been given the opportunity to share one resident’s greenhouse to bring on tender plants. Without all this help and funding the Bloomer group would find it extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to achieve what we have so far and to enable us to widen our scope even more in 2010.

We work closely with the Council both at County and local level and at present are endeavouring to find new sites for planting. This cannot be done without the help and advice of the local authority. We are also forging links with Westmere School in Sutton Bridge and the Peele School in Long Sutton.

The Bloomer group are looking towards long-term involvement in this project and to that end; we are always looking to find new members. If you are interested in helping, in any way, please contact us via

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