Sowing the seeds of success ….
Anyone visiting Cupar this summer cannot have missed the stunning floral displays that bedeck Cupar’s public gardens, streets, windowsills, railings and more. Much of this work is down to the small army of volunteers who make up Cupar in Bloom. We caught up with them … to dig a little deeper …
Cupar in Bloom was formed in March 2004 with just 8 volunteers. Some of the original eight are still involved – but the troop that brings the colour has now expanded to 22 core members who are supported by many friends who lend their time, skills and enthusiasm when needed. Uniting them all is a love of flowers – and a passion to “Keep Cupar Blooming”.
The group’s Chairperson and Vice Chairperson were the husband and wife team, Mary and Ronnie Law, who worked tirelessly for the town. Sadly, Mary Law OBE passed away in 2017.
Current Chair, Pat Mitchell, says: “Mary was a much admired and appreciated lady who was so instrumental in the development of Cupar in Bloom.” Pat adds: “Over the years we have been very fortunate in gaining the support of so many businesses in Cupar and the surrounding area and this year we have been fortunate to be successful in our applications to Fife Council, the Bruce Charitable Trust and the Co-op Local Community Fund.”
Pat explains that the new funding in 2019 has not only enabled them to kit out their new poly-tunnel home, but will also allow them to erect a shed in the autumn – and continue replacing the worst of their ageing barrel stock. Of course behind most Bloom groups are suppliers who are vital to their displays, and Cupar in Bloom is fortunate in that respect by having Pathhead Nursery, St. Monans, Pentland Plants, Edinburgh and Bulbs4U. The remit of the group is very simple: to make the town of Cupar as attractive and pleasant as possible in which to live, work or visit.
Secretary, April Sheldrick, explains that the group manages 172 planters of varying sizes together with 159 hanging baskets. The area covered? “Our main planting covers the central part of Cupar, Bonnygate, Crossgate, The Cross, Ferguson Square, Ladywynd, Burnside, Station Road, the Railway Station, Victoria Bridge, South Bridge as well as The War Memorial, The Crichton Monument, Castlehill School on Ceres road, St Columba’s School, The Drum on Carslogie Road and Kilmaron ASN School on Perth Road.”
Phew! That’s a huge part of the town – and we know from the feedback we have received that folk are very grateful to the Bloom team for their hard work.
We asked if new volunteers are needed to help in the delivery. April adds: “We would love to have more volunteers to help with the workload. There is always more to be done and we have to say it is very rewarding being part of the group. We are always looking for new members for ‘hands-on’ help – especially with larger areas, such as at the Railway Station.”
Pat talks of the highlights over the years, adding: “Expanding the areas we cover combined with keeping apace with environmental and ecological objectives and, sustainability have been key to our success.” And that success rewards all for their involvement. Pat explains: “Over the years we have been successful in the category of Best Medium Town in Beautiful Fife, Beautiful Scotland and Britain in Bloom competitions – all of which helps give a focus to the group and benefit the development of our objective of making Cupar an attractive and pleasant place to live and work.”
The work is – pretty much – year round. The group is already working on their autumn planting of wintering flowering pansies and bulbs. Their aim is to have as much colour in the town for as long as possible. Pat adds: “We are also already thinking ahead for next year’s summer planting choices!”
Dig for Victory
There’s a huge amount of work that goes into each year’s displays. The group has a long-established connection with Fife Council at Craigtoun where they help with the potting up of plugs which are brought on and then used in the Council’s planters in the town. Pat says: “The Council have always been very supportive of the group – all year round.”
Throughout the year, the group meets every month to discuss all aspects of their work – from fundraising and sponsorship to planting and maintenance. Some of their work splits out into sub-committees as required.
As well as seeing the fruits of their labours bloom in season, the group gets a huge plus from their support for the community – especially developing their relationship with young people in the town’s schools and youth groups.
Pat says: “We work closely with Elmwood, and also have various connections with local community groups such as the Rotary, Inner Wheel, Fife Show, Fruit and Blossom Group, Cupar Floral Art Club, Sunshine Kitchen, 10th Fife First Cupar Scout Group, ‘Y’ Young Gardeners and are hoping to forge new links with the Army Cadets, Cupar, this year, initial contact having been established”.
Their association with Elmwood culminates in the planting out of the commemorative design of the raised bed at the East Road. April explains: “This year, the successful applicant was Cupar ‘Y’ celebrating the 175th anniversary of the YMCA movement. Elwood College Lecturer, Andy Kydd, planned the design and the specialist form of planting by Elmwood students was supervised by Cupar in Bloom’s John Cunningham.”
Reap what you sow …
This summer, the group has had so many people commenting on how lovely the town looks – comments received by residents and visitors alike. And we are trying to help spread the word on their fantastic work. Through the channels managed by CuparNow, we’ve shared updates on their work – from the fundraising efforts at the beginning of the season to this wee video clip when the judges came to town …
To date (since it was published on 24th July 2019), more than 1,000 folk have engaged with the post (liking, commenting or sharing it with friends and family), it has been viewed more than 2,800 times – and the messaging has reached over 4,500.
And we think it is right to give all those individual, companies and organisations who have supported this year’s work a mention too. We can’t list them all – but here’s a shot of the plaque (displayed at Bonnygate car park) that does the job for us. Please say ‘thanks’ when you’re next in touch with any of them.
Pat concludes: “We would like to thank everyone from all of the businesses and all individuals who support us whether financially or in kind. Thank you also to the many local organisations for their support“.
Interested in volunteering?
Check out Cupar in Bloom’s Facebook page where you can message them for details on getting involved.
Thanks for reading!