Column: Let’s FACE (Focus Action for Crawley’s Environment) it!

Crawley Memorial Gardens SUS-140219-155652001
Crawley Memorial Gardens SUS-140219-155652001

Although the rain, snow and chilly winds remind us that we are in the depths of winter, Let’s FACE it! (along with many other people around the town) is thinking of summer sunshine and gearing up for this year’s South and South East in Bloom competitions. Planning starts for Crawley’s entry almost as soon as the previous year’s competition finishes.

Once the summer hanging baskets and troughs were removed in the autumn we started to make decisions as to the various colours and sorts of plants we would like this year. Orders need to be placed with suppliers to allow them the time to grow the plants required. You can’t just turn up at a garden centre in May and ask for 200 hanging baskets – everything has to be planned and organised at least six months in advance!

In January, South and South East in Bloom sent us a reminder of the closing date for entries to its competitions. The closing date this year is 21 February which gives you a few more days to get your entry form in if you are going to enter Blooming Schools, It’s Your Neighbourhood or any of the main categories of the competition.

Crawley has had considerable success in the Blooming Schools category in recent years with both Desmond Anderson School in Tilgate and Maidenbower Junior School achieving gold awards in the competition, and other schools achieving silver and silver gilt awards. If your school would like to know more about the programme please visit

It’s Your Neighbourhood is the Royal Horticultural Society’s grassroots community gardening campaign helping people to make lasting improvements to their local areas. It is organised in our region by South and South East in Bloom. Community groups are supported in their activities with advice and guidance, and receive annual feedback from expert It’s Your Neighbourhood assessors, who provide tips on how further improvements can be made.

Let’s FACE it! encourages and supports community groups to take part in “It’s Your Neighbourhood”. Once a group is established it is nice for them to receive national recognition for the brilliant work they do to make Crawley a nicer place to live, work or visit.

Entries are assessed for community participation (40 per cent of the total marks awarded), environmental responsibility (30 per cent) and gardening achievement (30 per cent). There are five levels of achievement in the awards that range from establishing, improving, developing, thriving and finally outstanding. All entries receive a certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society. The campaign is free to enter and details can be found at

Last year the following Crawley groups were awarded certificates in the It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign: Bolney Court residents achieved Level 3 “Thriving”. 7th Crawley Beavers, Bewbush Action Group, Ifield Village Conservation Area Group, Staplecross Court Residents, and the Worth Conservation Area Group all achieved Level 4 “Thriving”. St Andrew’s Church achieved Level 5 “Outstanding” and finally Boswell Road Residents in Tilgate were runners up in the Champion of Champions category and retained their Level 5 Outstanding certificate.

So don’t forget the closing date for entries to South and South East in Bloom is 21 February, then we can look forward to the judging dates in the summer. Blooming Schools will be judged between 8 to 19 June, It’s Your Neighbourhood between 29 June and 17July and the main judging will be sometime between 6 and 17 July. We will keep you up to date with all the plans in the meantime and will be asking for your help to ensure Crawley wins gold again this year – you have been warned!