Every church flower festival is special, but this year’s at Gedney Church should be amazing.
This is the 50th flower festival at the church and it’s on the theme of Gold for Gedney.
When the festival opens next Thursday, it will be the beginning of four days of celebration of flowers and a tribute to the ingenuity and hard work of a team of willing workers who make it happen each year.
Organisers Jane Webb, Carol Young and Hazel Horne estimate that as many as 70 people are responsible for putting together over 100 arrangements that fill what is known as the Cathedral of the Fens with the smells and colours of flowers.
The soaring St Mary Magdalene Church, of medieval origin, has window sills, pedestals, shelves, the chancel, a Lady Chapel and other areas to decorate, in addition to the 14 main set pieces.
“We are lucky to have such a big, light church,” says Carol Young, who starts the ball rolling each year with a phone call in January to stallholders to make sure they are available once again.
Carol, Jane and Hazel then put their heads together to choose a theme and a colour scheme, and pore over a map of the church, marking where arrangements will go and who will be responsible for them.
In May, the trio start contacting the people who traditionally help them with flower arrangements.
Many of the arrangers also create beautiful displays for other church festivals, so it helps that Gedney’s church flower festival is at a different time to the majority, held in early May,.
The different time of year also means there are different flowers that will be available.
Jane, who is also church treasurer at Gedney – Carol and Hazel are both on the Parochial Church Council – says the festival is the church’s main fundraiser of the year. In recent times, the festival has resulted in over £5,000 each year.
Jane says: “It gets used for church running costs and also goes towards church improvements because in the last three years we have installed toilets in the church, had the church completely re-wired and we have just had new units fitted in the servery.”
The money comes from donations from visitors – they frequently express their astonishment at the beauty of the church in the visitors’ book – as well as from stalls and refreshments.
This year, there are stalls selling cakes, local produce, books, plants and bric-a-brac, as well as a tombola.
Each year, volunteers also serve up hundreds of meals in church, as well as snacks and refreshments.
The festival runs from Thursday, July 28 to Sunday, July 31 (from 10am).