News article created on 9 October 2018

Green fingered volunteers scoop Rugby In Bloom award

A team of volunteer lock keepers is celebrating after their efforts to transform the Oxford Canal at Hillmorton scooped a Rugby in Bloom Award.

Rugby in Bloom volunteers Rugby in Bloom volunteers

The volunteers have spent the year improving the lockside for passing boaters and people on the towpath.

Over the course of the year the team has created a herb garden for boaters and other visitors to help themselves, planted flower beds, protected wild orchids growing alongside the canal and kept the lockside neat and tidy. The volunteers have also built and installed a picnic bench for people to stop and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time by the water.

Hillmorton volunteers workRecognising the volunteers’ efforts in revitalising the canalside, alongside their work to help boaters through the locks and welcome visitors, the Rugby in Bloom judges gave the locks a Gold award in the Community category.

Taryn Marriott, lead volunteer with the Canal & River Trust, said: "We’re really pleased with how the locks are looking and are delighted to have won this award.

"The really satisfying part of the project, as well as seeing the end result, was the opportunity for the nine volunteer lock keepers at Hillmorton Locks to work together. Ordinarily the lock keepers work a shift pattern with little opportunity to all work together but this project has enabled us to roll up our sleeves and all muck in as a team.

"There’s a great sense of teamwork and everyone is enthusiastic to do more next year."

Sue Blocksidge, volunteer development coordinator for the Trust, said: "It’s fantastic that the volunteers’ efforts have been recognised with this award and it’s richly deserved for all the hard work that they’ve put in.

"Recent research tells us that time spent by the water can help us to feel happier and healthier so by making the lockside more attractive the volunteers have given people passing by a place to stop and enjoy the wellbeing benefits of being by the canal."

The Rugby in Bloom Awards are run by Rugby Borough Council with the support of local organisations, groups and individuals.