Smarten Up Hungerford – Nov 2021 update

The aim of this group is to involve as many local volunteers, residents, schoolchildren, local businesses and organisations in working together to help ‘Smarten Up Hungerford’.

All efforts are co-ordinated with Hungerford Town Council, West Berks Council, Hungerford Chamber of Commerce and the Town and Manor of Hungerford with the support of John O’Gaunt School and St Lawrence’s Church.

If you would like to join the band of volunteers or sponsor any of the plant displays or make any financial contribution however small, please contact John at smartenuphungerford@gmail.com or 07961 339377.

November 2021

Smarten up Hungerford is to resume its monthly group “clean-up” sessions on Sunday 7 November, meeting in the library car park at 10.30am. Ahead of Remembrance Day we need out town looking as smart as ever.  We will be litter picking, cleaning, wiping and trimming as we go.  New members and donations welcome. 

 

October 2021

Well, what a very strange year it has been for all of us and with the list of unique world-wide goings-on being far too full to mention any by name!! However, through adversity some good has come, namely a “Smartened Up Hungerford”. Wherever I go, I see our excellent work and hear comments from the Public, the Council and the Chamber of Commerce – so a heartfelt thank you to all of our volunteers who have helped us – you know who you are!! 

In addition to the excellent hanging baskets provided by the town council we now have an additional 25 planters that we provided and maintained. 

We are so very grateful to the Town Council and to the Chamber of Commerce for their continuing support and guidance. 

Throughout June, a team of 6 volunteers replaced the winter planting in the oak tubs and planters on the bridge with the summer bedding which is still regularly maintained and watered. AES Landscape Contractors recently installed a large new planter opposite the Co-op garage following ideas submitted by John Willmott. With help from Helen Simpson and Hungerford Town Council a grant was also given for the area to be cleared to make room for wild flowers and shrubs. We also managed to save some of the bulbs and primulas from the oak tubs which have now been transferred to this area. 

A meeting was arranged with Kevin King from GWR who was very impressed with the work we have done at the station and kindly agreed to donate some money to SUH. He provided some litter pickers and briefed us on how to work within the rules at the station. Following discussions with Network Rail and with help from GWR, Network Rail have recently cleared the rubbish from behind the passenger shelter on the eastbound platform. We are now in discussions with them regarding maintaining that area. Litter picking is still a significant part of our activities and I am pleased to say that many of our group have taken on areas local to themselves and are doing an excellent job keeping their areas litter free. SUH were awarded 1st place in the Hungerford in Bloom Volunteer Garden Category so a big thank you to everyone who helped with the watering and deadheading which contributed to the winning of this award. 

We were recently asked by Hungerford Primary School to help with their new mindful garden which has been planted up and will be opened on the 8th October. 

Currently the team are maintaining a number of planters and tubs around town. These are listed here both for your information, and so that hopefully you can help keep an eye on them:
• Eight oak half barrel tubs in the High Street
• Six planters on the pedestrian bridge over the canal
• Two tubs on the A4 approach to Hungerford from the West
• Two tubs on the A4 approach to Hungerford from the East
• Two tubs just East of the Texaco garage
• Four tubs at the railway station
• Large wooden planter opposite the Texaco garage
• Large wooden planter by the war memorial 

What’s next? As we move into the Autumn, the main task is to remove the summer planting from all the tubs and planters, which will be replaced with a Winter scheme. This will involve deciding on a layout for each planter, then sourcing the plants that are needed. Anyone who is interested in getting involved with this will be very welcome to join in – we can always use new ideas, so please contact Nicola.wood1@icloud.com to get started. 

For obvious reasons, group activities have not really been possible for some time, and in fact volunteers have been doing a great job litter picking individually at times that suit them. As this has been so successful, it makes sense to continue this approach. It would be good then to have group activities focused on specific events where a team effort would make a real difference. The first key date for a group activity will be the weekend before Remembrance Day, when it would be really good to make sure the town is looking at its best – Sunday 7th November is the date for your diary, further details to follow. 

If there’s something you think the team could take on as a new project, drop a note to Nicola.wood1@icloud.com with an outline of what you have in mind.

May 2021

Litter picking, planting, watering, painting tubs, removing clutter, wiping, cleaning and generally SMARTENING UP our beautiful town of Hungerford is what we do with a team of dedicated volunteers, however we need more volunteers and funding!!
 
From this photo you will see the problems that we have to tackle – this is clearly a problem with society today! If you can spare an hour or two, either to join us be it in a group activity or to work on your own individually, then please do get in touch with us on smartenuphungerford@gmail.com 

 

April 2021 Update 

We now have some 25 planters and tubs to maintain across Hungerford. They give great joy to passers by and we continue to work closely with Hungerford Town Council to co-ordinate the Town’s floral displays. 

We are immensely grateful to the Council for its ongoing support and funding.

Three of our brilliant volunteers, Susan Mayes, Nicola Wood and Catherine Fitsell with our new water bowser kindly funded by Hungerford Town Council (with jolly stickers provided by M&P Hardware).

However, with summer on its way, we need more volunteers to help!

February 2021 Update

Above all else, we hope that you are all safe and well and not getting too bored – we hope that 2021 will be a happy and smart one for us all!!  Neither last year nor this year have turned out the way that any of us had planned, thus meaning that our Smartening Up Hungerford operation has been seriously curtailed!  Thank you to everyone who continues to work on their own, of their own accord and lets all hope that our regular Sunday sessions can resume soon and hopefully once the better weather has returned.  Our joint initiative with St Lawrence’s was a great success however we do need some additional volunteers to join our regular plant maintenance team – as the number of displays increases, so does the need for watering and dead-heading – please do let Nicola know!!

 

Our main focus since last summer has been on the various planters and tubs located around town, which you will have hopefully already seen. Some of these we have assumed responsibility for, and others we have started from scratch. These are:

·      Eight oak half barrel tubs in the High Street
·      Six planters on the pedestrian bridge over the canal
·      One tub on the A4 approach to Hungerford from the West
·      Two tubs on the A4 approach to Hungerford from the East
·      Two tubs just West of the Texaco garage
·      Four tubs at the railway station

 

The planters on the bridge in particular have received some very positive comments, and have appeared in a number of media photos, and whilst deadheading the plants during the summer nearly every person passing by commented how lovely the flowers were!

 

All planters have been switched to Winter planting, but some of the planters and tubs are now looking a little sad and some replacement plants may be needed.

 Apart from maintenance, the next activity will be changing the existing planting again in May ready for the summer. and we will need volunteers to help for both the planting and maintenance, which will be made much easier with the new water bowser.

 

Much of the activity we have been able to carry out has been facilitated by funding from Hungerford Town Council – so many thanks to them for both the funding and their positive approach to Smarten Up Hungerford.

Thanks also to Town and Manor for allowing us to store the new water bowser in the Town Hall – much appreciated!

 

In terms of what we can do right now, its really a case of maintaining what we have and ensuring it stays in good shape. Of course, group activities are not possible, but there are a couple of things you could all do:

 

1.   Keep an eye on the tubs and planters as you walk around town – if you see any litter in them, please remove it. Any signs of damage, please drop an email to Nicola (Nicola.wood1@icloud.com)

2.   Litter picking as a group activity is paused until at least April, but please go ahead with individual activities if you are willing and able to do so. You can leave full bags by the wall in the library car park – Veolia will collect them from there.

3.   We would very much like to set up a WhatsApp group to easily coordinate planned activities – so if you are interested in getting involved, please could you email your mobile number to Nicola.wood1@icloud.com, or message to 07827 911935.

 

We’re looking forward to a positive Spring and Summer – that’s when the work to maintain the tubs and planters really kicks in, so will be looking forward to working with you all then on that, and hopefully some group activities.

 

October 2020 Update

Despite Covid 19 restrictions and seriously inclement weather on Friday 2nd October, a band of Smarten Up Hungerford’s (SUH) volunteer team turned out to do some planting, weeding and litter-picking at the Hungerford Tragedy Memorial Gardens, in Bulpit Lane, which included our local Member of Parliament,  Laura Farris MP, who is a keen SUH volunteer. 

Our Smarten Up Hungerford team was absolutely delighted that despite heavy rainfall, a group of fifteen or so, volunteers including our Mayor, Helen Simpson and past Mayor, Martin Crane along with various WBC county councillors, who had all turned out to undertake these much needed works and that augments the 20 or so planters that SUH have installed around the town so far – the most notable of which can be seen on the main canal bridge. 

Our Mayor was able to brief Laura about the Tragedy which brought back poignant memories for Laura as her father, who as our sitting MP at that time, was in Hungerford on that fateful day. 

Our SUH team is always looking for new volunteers and for donations and would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in helping us make our beautiful town even “smarter”.  We are a small sub-group of the Hungerford Chamber of Commerce and are a very sociable and active group that has already achieved much around the town and we are most grateful to Hungerford Town Council who are our main sponsor.  We do however need more funds as that would allow us to achieve even more.

Before Covid, we had been meeting at 10am on every 3rd Sunday of the month in the library car park and hope to resume this once the pandemic is over.  In the meantime all volunteers are encouraged to do their own “smartening up” jobs in the areas where they live, as and when they notice things that need doing!! 

 

Our next outing, is a joint venture where we shall meet with volunteers from St Lawrence’s Church to litterpick at the station on Thursday 15 October between 9am-12 noon and all are welcome. 

 

For further information please contact John Willmott at:  smartenuphungerford@gmail.com or 01488 681839 

July 2020 Update

The following update was provided by Smarten Up Hungerford to Hungerford Town Council’s Highways and Transport Committee for its meeting on 27 July 2020.

Due to Covid 19, all SUH group activities have been cancelled from the start of the pandemic.

This summer because HTC was no longer having a contractor to do the town’s flowers and following discussions with HTC, it was agreed that our SUH team would plant and maintain the canal bridge flowers and the various planter tubs around the town, funded by HTC. We have therefore replanted the six planters on the canal bridge with summer flowers. We maintain these each week and they are looking very colourful.

We have also replanted and continue to maintain our tubs at the various entrances to Hungerford.

Following the purchase by SUH of three new tubs for the station, these have been also been planted and maintained throughout the winter and summer. A fourth tub is due to be installed this week or next.

In the absence of HTC paying for hanging baskets this year due to Covid, SUH proposed to HTC that we should install some more tubs (7no) along the High Street generally alongside the various bench seating. This has now been approved by WBC and HTC has ordered the tubs which are due to be delivered tomorrow. 

We have also been coming to arrangements with various business owners which have planters, whereby if they pay for the materials and plants then our SUH team will maintain them. This has then led to the planters being substantially improved at the Hungerford Arcade (front and back) and at Russell Marshall’s. We anticipate extending this scheme to other High Street businesses.

We decided to cancel the monthly Smarten Up Hungerford volunteer mornings at 10am on the third Sunday of each month.  This will resume when deemed safe to do so.  Individuals continue to litter pick.

We noticed that our various tubs at the entrances to Hungerford on the A4 were being obscured by the overgown verges and so the SUH team has strimmed these areas, so the tubs can now be clearly seen.

Street signs continue to be cleaned as and when we can.

The former Old Lamb pub opposite the Italian restaurant had a very poorly maintained sign and base and an SUH sponsor agreed to refurbish this and place a new sign in the empty frame with both their own logo and SUH’s with hopefully some flowers.

The large planter opposite the Co-op garage – HTC agreed to fund this however the original planter design was rather large and expensive and so we have redesigned it to be able to be built in phases depending on its success and the funding.  WBC have confirmed that the land is theirs and have their approval in principle.

The roundabout by the Co-op garage – we asked WBC to see if they could improve the quality of the planting and this they have done.  They have planted it with a selection of wild flowers that is vastly superior to what was there before.

Finance – HTC has been our major funder and we continue to work closely with Claire and her team to both implement the plans and to keep within budget. Little other funding has been forthcoming as asking for donations during lockdown would not in our view be very sensible.The Chamber of Commerce continues to be our banker and insurer.

Water supply – we are currently hoping to find an easy method to transport water to all of the planters. As we do not have the resources to have a van with automatic tanks and hoses, everything has to be lugged there by hand and we are considering the purchase of a water bowser however this also has issues, such as filling, storage and handling.

We have been sounded out as to whether SUH would be able to take on the maintenance of both the Memorial and Tragedy gardens. If all of our volunteers actually did volunteer then we would be able to help, however out of the 40 or so, who have asked to be volunteers, there are only about 10 who actually do anything!!  With this small team of doers and we are just about able to maintain what we are already doing.  Quite how we motivate the others to do anything is currently an unanswered question…

Finally, I would like to express the SUH’s team thanks to HTC for its help and its financial support. I must here also mention two of our main SUH team leaders in Nicola Wood and Susan Mayes who are the two ladies who keep the SUH planters all maintained and looking so beautiful and assist me in the administration.

About Smarten Up Hungerford

Led by Hungerford Chamber of Commerce, the aim of this group is to involve as many local volunteers, residents, schoolchildren, local businesses and organisations and to encourage them to work together to help ‘Smarten Up Hungerford’.

All efforts are being co-ordinated with Hungerford Town Council, West Berkshire Council and the Town and Manor of Hungerford with the support of John O’Gaunt School and St Lawrence’s Church.

These are the jobs identified so far: 

  • Cleaning and decorating the eight entry gates on roads leading into Hungerford
  • Litter picking
  • Cleaning street furniture including bollards and lamp posts
  • Mowing
  • Hedge trimming and branch clearance
  • Weeding beds, watering plants and dead-heading
  • Cleaning railings and road signs
  • Flower planting and maintaining
  • Pathway clearance
  • Re-planting tubs at the railway station
  • Decorating railings and fences

How to Get Involved

 

Progress

Thanks to the work of local resident John Willmott and the 30 or so volunteers who now regularly help, good progress has been made many of the above tasks: road signs, bridge railings and rubbish bins, for instance, are amongst the things that have been allowed to get into a fairly filthy condition through neglect in recent years and which have recently been cleaned by volunteers. Many people have commented how much more attractive the town is as a result.

By their nature, all are ongoing tasks and so more volunteers are needed – see the section below. The organisers are also seeking to involve local businesses more directly in the work.

Children are also encouraged to get involved. In May 2019, for instance Smarten Up Hungerford volunteers were boosted by the arrival of 25 or so Beavers (young scouts) who litter-picked the playground area, the memorial gardens and the cricket ground.  The Beavers’ leader, Lindsey Fraser, said it was gratifying to see the children doing a new task. John Willmott added that ‘as well as removing a lot of rubbish from public places, this also instils in children the need to be community-minded in the future.’

More information can also be found in these minutes of Hungerford Town Council’s Highways and Transport Committee of 23 April (section 7).

 

 
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2 Responses

  1. Hi John

    I think what would really smarten up Hungerford would be some better shops and some restaurants, maybe some chains like Pizza Express – i think we should take a leaf out of Marlborough’s book and make more of a family friendly high street

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