The winners of the 2012 Living Churchyard Competition have been announced by Dorset Wildlife Trust, following the visits of expert judges to over 25 Dorset churches. St James, Milton Abbas has scooped the top prize for a third year and there were winners from Branksome in the east to Beaminster in the west as church-goers welcomed wildlife as well as people to Dorset’s places of worship.
Dr Sharron Abbott, Living Churchyard Project Co-ordinator at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Our judges have been so impressed by the many wonderful local volunteers who give their time and labour to managing their churchyards for wildlife, at the same time ensuring that this does not make them look like an ‘unkempt and neglected wilderness’. These havens form an important patchwork across our county for wildlife and our congratulations go to the winners with heartfelt thanks to all the groups who work so hard.”
Living Churchyards, sponsored by the Diocese of Salisbury, encourages local communities to manage their churchyards for the benefit of wildlife as well as the local congregation, visitors and the bereaved. Ways in which churchyards can be enhanced for wildlife include developing small areas of mown grass into mini-wildflower meadows, replacing exotic shrubs and hedges with native species and planting nectar-rich flowers to encourage butterflies and other insects.
Sharron added: “Our winners show that the key to success is to produce and work to a clear management plan, and to communicate this effectively to local people. We are very happy to advise parishes so they can get started and ensure their churchyard can be a haven for nature and for people.”
This year’s winners are:
Best Newcomer: St Mary, Tarrant Hinton
Best Urban Churchyard: St Clement, Branksome
Best Managed (joint winners): St Mary, Beaminster and St Martin, Broadmayne
Bishop’s Prize (best overall): St James, Milton Abbas
The annual prize-giving takes place at Brooklands Farm on Saturday 20th October, when the Rt. Rev. Dr. Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, will present the certificates to representatives of all the participating groups.
Churches interested in finding out more about the scheme can ring 01305 264620 or visitdorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/conservation.
INVITATION AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
The prize giving event is on Saturday 20th October from 10am, with prizes presented at approximately 12 noon at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Headquarters, Brooklands Farm, Forston, Dorchester DT2 7AA by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne.