Jeremy Irons Hosts Horticultural Show for Watlington in Bloom

From The Henley Standard

watlington in bloom

ACTOR Jeremy Irons hailed Watlington’s “scruffiness” during the town’s horticultural show on Sunday.

About 350 people attended the show, which was organised by Watlington in Bloom and held at a barn in Hill Road belonging to Irons and his actress wife Sinead Cusack.

The show, which was the first to be held in Watlington for more than two decades, took place at the same time as an open gardens afternoon.

Irons, who presented the prizes with his wife, said: “I have always thought that part of Watlington’s charm is that it is on the edge of being scruffy.

“It’s not a toy village like something you might find in the Cotswolds but it’s rather nice because of that.

“It’s a working village — people are busy and don’t always have time to look after some of the alleyways, so sometimes they get a bit overgrown and you have to hack your way through them with a machete.

“However, with a little amount of effort on all our parts, it can be lifted out of scruffiness. It has a wonderful charm and a day like today brings us all together to be surrounded by beautiful plants.

“This year has been an enormous success for Watlington in Bloom and I hope we will build on it next year.”

Cusack told the crowd: “I don’t think the barn has ever looked as pretty as it does today, so all you kids and everyone who made these beautiful arrangements of flowers deserves to be congratulated. It is a fantastic array of excellence.”

Classes were judged by Peter Thompson, Watlington’s mentor for the Britain in Bloom competition, and John White, a judge from Chalgrove.

Jenny Stillwell won best entry with a spray of flowers. Kerris Hennstridge and Lara Spicer won best children’s entry with their miniature gardens. Diana Kean won overall best in show and Linda Nicholson was runner-up.

The demand for the open gardens was so great that the group ran out of programmes. Eighteen venues were open to the public during the afternoon, including the town’s old burgage plots and private gardens.

Tim Horton, chairman of Watlington in Bloom, said the group would now consider holding the events annually.

“A lot of people said they loved seeing the horticultural show back in the town and I think whatever we do in the future it was nice to have that response,” he said. Just under £1,000 was raised by the two events but Mr Horton said: “The real intention was to celebrate the town and have a really good day.”

He thanked Tom and Gill Bindoff for setting up the show and Watlington in Bloom co-ordinator Terry Jackson and her husband Keith for their help throughout the weekend. Pat Fewell, who organised the open gardens event but was unable to attend as she was recovering from an operation, was thanked in her absence.

Watlington is to compete in the national final of the large village category of Britain in Bloom this summer after achieving its greatest success yet in the regional competition last year.

The regional judging will take place on July 15 and the national judging on August 6.

Mr Horton said: “We are now heading for our true tests. Clearly we have many tasks to do but will have no complaints about watering daily if the sun shines like it did at the weekend.”

Published 08/07/13

Jeremy Irons to Open Union Hall Festival

From The Southern Star

Union Hall (photo by Kestutis Anuzis)

Union Hall (photo by Kestutis Anuzis)

By Louise Roseingrave

THE COUNTDOWN for cast off is on with just two weeks to go before Union Hall Festival by the Sea.

Sponsors, organisers and villagers gathered for the festival launch last week, welcoming the announcement that Jeremy Irons will officially open the festivities on July 21st.

The British actor’s appearance will follow a Gathering Mass in the church, a family sports day and a fancy dress parade through the village, led by the Millstreet Pipe Band and St Fachtna’s Silver Band. The ten-day summer gathering offers a packed schedule showcasing the best of what the village has to offer.

Scrumptious

From scrumptious local produce to fishermen angling for the best catch, with a little sport, magic, music, busking, kids’ games and dancing thrown in, organisers are confident that both visitors and villagers alike will find something to write home about.

A bumper ten days of activities kicks off with Crowley’s Hall reunion dance on Friday, July 19th. Lovers who shared a first kiss after meeting at the venue can take a romantic trip down memory lane. Perhaps a few new love matches will fall into step with music by Eddie Lee.

The line-up includes a busking competition with €500 prize, live street music for some open air fun, cookery demonstrations on the causeway, local produce stalls, a rowing regatta, a football skills blitz and the list goes on and on. Festival spokesman Willie O’Donovan said the scope of events surpassed all expectation.

Celebration

‘The scale of the programme over ten days offers something for all ages and all interests. We aimed to capture the village spirit with this celebration and the way the community and sponsors rowed in to help has been fantastic,’ he said. Since fishing is synonymous with Union Hall, Glenmar Shellfish MD Mel Bendon said he was delighted to support the festival.

‘The village is known for its community spirit as much as its fishing. There’s something special about it and we are excited to be able to welcome visitors to experience it,’ he said.

John O’Connell of West Cork Distillers is among the local producers set to quench a certain thirst among liqueur lovers with his handcrafted Drombeg whiskey.

‘The fact that our products are made here in the village provides a unique selling point for us. People all over the country know Union Hall as a little village by the sea and it’s always a talking point. We’re happy to be able to give something back to the community by supporting what should be a really great summer festival,’ he said.

Keep an eye on the Facebook page ‘Union Hall Festival by the Sea’ for updates.