There are many unsung heroes in our village working behind the scenes often as volunteers to enhance village life, in this special we caught up with Susan Bott

Susan told us more how it all started, and how it continues.

In January 2020, the Main Road Working Party was formed with the aim of improving the appearance of Main Road, as the village was so easy to drive through without noticing its appearance.

One of the first things the group did was to have a walkabout along the length of the Main Road looking for areas that could do with improvement.  Amongst other ideas, we thought we could make an impact by planting daffodils, anywhere that had some green space.

In February 2020 Covid-19 struck and meetings were limited to Zoom calls but we still wanted to persevere with the project.  We purchased a couple of bulb planters.  Cllr. David Harrison kindly provided the first batch of bulbs, which was matched with a purchase by Kempsey Parish Council of quality bulbs from a company called Boston Bulbs.  I initially started planting bulbs on my own but quickly realised I needed help.

We put out an appeal from the Parish Office for volunteers, and the word spread and a list of thirty two keen planter volunteers surfaced.  We shared the bulbs out amongst ‘The Bulb Army’, with general, relaxed instructions as to where to plant and how.  So, with fingers and toes crossed we looked forward to Spring 2021 when hopefully the fruits of our labours would emerge.

It was a special time as Covid-19 had forced lockdowns and restrictions on our day to day lives.  There were many people at home only too grateful to have something purposeful to do, especially with a feelgood factor to it.

During 2020, as well as purchasing daffodil bulbs, the Parish Council bought the first planter which we sited outside the Parish Hall. I planted this up with various evergreens for year round interest.

Spring 2021 came, and we still had Covid affecting our lives, we put up notices to try and give the new growth the best chance of survival, then suddenly the bright yellow flowers started to appear in numbers.  We know that it cheered up many people, both those living in Kempsey and those passing through.

In October 2021 we organised a communal planting event in the Rocky.  Once again Cllr. David Harrison came up trumps with a donation of bulbs and introduced the technical innovation of a drill mounted auger.  Kempsey Parish Council also purchased a bulk quantity of bulbs.  It was at this point that we decided to spread the love and encouraged planting in other areas of the Parish.

2022 was a particularly dry year and we found that watering the planters and raised beds was a real challenge.  This was eventually resolved in early 2023 with the purchase of a 500 litre towable bowser.  Nicknamed the Yellow Submarine

Going into 2023, the latest batch of bulbs from Kempsey Parish Council have been planted and Councillor Martin Allen has helped with the funding by providing a generous donation that has allowed replanting where so many of the original bulbs were destroyed during the lengthy roadworks at the southern end of the village.  I must remember to thank Paul Edwards from Platform Housing who has provided funds for crocus bulbs which I have planted but I’m still waiting on their appearance.

Once the latest roadworks have been completed bulbs can be replaced at the entrance to the new estate.

Now it’s 2024 and there will be new plants for the wooden beds, barrels and the cast iron planters.  The planter at the shop is to be moved so a little more TLC can be given as it has been used as a rubbish bin and worse.  We live and learn.

Finally I hope that you have noticed the new tree up on Windmill Lane.  This tree has been planted to celebrate our late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.  It is a Rowan; Sorbus aucuparia, a species native to the British Isles.  In time, it will grow into a splendid tree with plenty of berries for the birds and accompanying wildlife.  A plaque is to be installed and railings to surround the tree.

I am truly grateful for all of the help from everyone involved in bulb planting.

Onwards and upwards and together we can set an example in making Kempsey a truly great place to live.

Susan Bott.