Special Report: Volunteers keep village in blooming good health

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) and Hazel Hampshire working below Bradfield church
Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) and Hazel Hampshire working below Bradfield church

Dedicated team replenish soil and flowers during their ‘winter tidy-up’ as Bradfield continues to bask in its new-found fame after the Tour de France

Bradfield used to be a well-kept secret, said local historian Evelyn Cauwood.

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Evelyn Cauwood (left) and Barbara Beresford looking at the flowers near the village hall

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Evelyn Cauwood (left) and Barbara Beresford looking at the flowers near the village hall

Small bands of tourists would turn up with their flasks and blankets to watch the cricket on summer evenings, and hikers would stagger up the hill to the Old Horns to admire the sunset over the Peak District hills.

And then the world’s sporting media and their helicopters arrived to film the Tour de France peloton as it swept through High Bradfield, and things have never been the same since.

“Many people didn’t know we existed until the Tour de France,” said Lynn Russell.

Last Sunday, Lynn, Evelyn and their team of Bradfield in Bloom volunteers carried out their ‘winter tidy-up.’ A dozen Bradfielders and Sheffield Conservation Volunteers set out in the morning rainstorms to replenish the soil and flowers in 14 troughs, 12 flower barrels, and the ‘Bradfield Triangle’ on Brownhouse Lane. “We’ve found all sorts in there in the past,” said Lynn, “but no ships or aeroplanes as yet.” The new daffodil bulbs should be safer in Bradfield than Bermuda, it was agreed.

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Barbara and Peter Davidson working on a planter by High Bradfield's listed red phone box

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Barbara and Peter Davidson working on a planter by High Bradfield's listed red phone box

The group began nine years ago, following a small grant from Bradfield Parish Council, and since then has racked up five Yorkshire in Bloom silver gilt awards and a special Sheffield community award from the Lord Mayor.

“Sometimes you wonder why you do it, especially when it was throwing it down this morning,” said Lynn. “But it is a pretty little village that needs to be kept pretty.”

Over the years, the team have worked with other agencies to install a set of boundary stones on the entrance roads to the villages of High and Low Bradfield, to rebuild the Trespass Bridge in Low Bradfield, to install pedal parks for cycle parking, and this year villagers persuaded Amey to set up eight Victorian lamp posts rather than modern versions to maintain the village character.

Lynn and colleagues are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the new village hall, opened to replace the old building in 2006 after the village has fundraised furiously to raise money from Europe and elsewhere. The hall now hosts regular Bradflix film nights, dances, yoga classes and a monthly farmers’ market showcasing locally-sourced produce, which brings in 7-800 local foodies every month.

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) with Barbara and Peter Davidson walking up Loxley Road at High Bradfield during the clean up

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) with Barbara and Peter Davidson walking up Loxley Road at High Bradfield during the clean up

The team also ran a recent Bogfest to keep the village toilets open under the auspices of Bradfield Parish Council. “Spend a penny for us, we said, or if you’re flush, give it to us,” said Hazel Hampshire, who helped raise nearly £1,000 by asking visitors to put their spare cash into an old toilet.

The village is doing well, said the Bloom team, the local post office cafe is a destination for the increased rambling visitors (thanks to the opening up of the local reservoir paths, they said, as much as le Tour publicity), the two village pubs are still thriving, Bradfield Brewery run their business from High Bradfield, and there are an increasing number of holiday lets to take advantage of the village’s location in both Sheffield and the Peak District.

The popularity brings challenges, however: visitors are leaving less litter, said Lynn, but parking is a problem. “Why not come on the bus?” said Hazel. “You’ll help with the parking, and it will also help keep the service running.” Maybe public transport chiefs will look again at the return of the 1950s Sheffield Lakeland Tours bus that brought city families to tour the reservoirs of the Bradfield and Loxley valleys, said Evelyn.

Most visitors approve of the flowers, the views, the barrels and troughs, but not always, said Lynn.

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (right) working on a barrell planter on Loxley Road with Barbara and Peter Davidson

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (right) working on a barrell planter on Loxley Road with Barbara and Peter Davidson

“We sometimes wear yellow council vests while we work at the roadside, so I had one man recently who said: ‘Council should be spending money on proper things not flowers, and I bet you’re on time and a half.’ I told him we were actually volunteers, and did it for nothing. So he said: ‘They don’t do it in our area.’”

(Bradfielders like Lynn are very proud of their village, but they also tend to be forthright.) “So I looked at him and said: “So why don’t you get off your bum and do it, then?”

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) and Hazel Hampshire working below Bradfield church

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (left) and Hazel Hampshire working below Bradfield church

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (right) working on a barrell planter on Loxley Road with Barbara and Peter Davidson

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Lynn Russell (right) working on a barrell planter on Loxley Road with Barbara and Peter Davidson

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Evelyn Cauwood (left) and Lynn Russell by one of the village yellow bicycles commemorating the Tour de France

Bradfield in Bloom village clean up: Evelyn Cauwood (left) and Lynn Russell by one of the village yellow bicycles commemorating the Tour de France