End of an era for flower society - after nearly 70 years

Horsham Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society treasurer Val Court, left, and society secretary Rose Cottingham,right, with Emily Bradbury from St Catherines Hospice SUS-161118-112909001
Horsham Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society treasurer Val Court, left, and society secretary Rose Cottingham,right, with Emily Bradbury from St Catherines Hospice SUS-161118-112909001

A once-thriving horticultural society has come to the end of an era and closed down - after nearly 70 years.

The Horsham and District Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society finally folded after membership dwindled in recent times.

Now the disbanded group has even sold off its silverware, trophies and vases - and donated the proceeds to St Catherine’s Hospice.

Society secretary Tony Cottingham, whose father George, was a founder member of the society in 1948, announced the closure this week ‘with deep regret.’

The society held regular flower shows, first at Warnham and latterly at Mannings Heath Village Hall - and in its heyday attracted top class exhibitors and visitors from a wide area across the country.

Said Tony: “Sadly, our committee had reduced in size in recent years. Several people had either retired or moved away, and it was a particularly sad occasion when our chairman, Don Bateman, sadly passed away in 2014.

“Don had served on our committee since 1956, and we found it a very difficult task to run the society without him. So due to a declining number of members and exhibitors alike, the decision was made to close.”

Tony said that people nowadays had less leisure time to spend on time-consuming hobbies such as gardening - and people’s gardens also tended to be smaller with less growing room.

“It’s a sad time. At its peak in 1986 we had one show at Warnham where we had 130 dahlia exhibits alone. We could hardly get throught the door.”

Tony himself still grows chrysanths in the garden of his Horsham home but recalled when he and his father “used to grow hundreds os spray chrysanths filling up my dad’s allotment.

“I don’t think anyone does that any more.”

After the sale of the society’s assets - silver cups, trophies and vases - a total of £465 was raised and donated to St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley.