Voting closes on Sunday (23 May) for this year’s CPRE Bedfordshire Living Countryside Awards Bedfordshire Choice award and there are a number of Bedford-based organisations in the running – including Abbeyfields Roundabout Group.
The Choice award is a new category introduced for 2021 which recognises the project that best promotes a living and thriving countryside as chosen by the people of Bedfordshire.
The Bedfordshire Choice award lets the people of Bedfordshire vote for the projects that most engage or move them. You can read about all of them here.
From tree planting to ice cream, community gardens to lace making, there’s something for everyone.
In Bedford, the Abbeyfields Roundabout Group in Elstow are a group of volunteers who started out three years ago with the aim of rescuing and caring for the roundabouts on Abbey Fields to bring them back to being beautiful.
“We wanted to make a difference to the Abbeyfields community as people pass the roundabouts every day, and if they see a beautiful and cared-for environment, it lifts their spirits and gives them hope,” said group member, Helen Konstantinidi.
“We’ve had the benefit of support in the past from our Ward Councillor with Ward Funding contribution towards plants, but residents also bring us split-plants and donated flowers to add to the roundabouts.”
The group has taken on other neglected or unloved public areas around the Abbey Fields estate, planting them up with flowers.
“Members of the community contact us all the time, on social media and in the street, to say how happy it makes them seeing the planting and the changing colours of the flowers in the seasons on the roundabouts and other areas,” said Helen.
“We love to make people happy!”
After getting permission from the landowner of the Doctors Surgery, the group wanted to put a bench and flower beds next to the public footpath near the bus stop, which, says Helen, was previously a very neglected and rubbish-strewn area.
Cllr Tim Hill contributed to the bench cost and volunteers laid the concrete base and planted and tend the flower beds.
From rubbish clearing to bulb and tree planting, a Christmas light switch on to Santa’s Grotto, the group is dedicated to improving its area for residents and also visitors.
After receiving a donation of two picnic tables from a local contractor, volunteers created a picnic area on the Moor, where individuals and families can sit. A planter box was added with flowers and small shrubs and residents have begun to fix small plaques on it in memory of loved ones lost. The picnic area has now become popular with walkers and visitors to the Moor.
“We’ve planted copses of trees on the Abbeyfields Moor, with permission from Bedford Borough Council and with trees contributed by the Woodland Trust,” explained Helen.
“This was in response to the Woodland Trusts call to plant trees throughout Britain, especially in urban areas. The small trees are growing well and they’ve been added to by the planting of a few mature saplings, donated by a local contractor.”
The group also planted donated daffodil and tulip bulbs on the grass verges of Abbeyfields and say the first daffodils and tulips of spring lifted everyone’s spirits.
“Our aim is to continue to carry out anything that makes Abbeyfields beautiful, by way of gardening in the community and caring for our environment at the same time.”