‘Your island needs you’

Floral Guernsey chairman John Woodward explains why volunteers are needed to help keep Guernsey in bloom

Visitor exit surveys consistently place our floral displays high on their approval list and said how significant they were to their enjoyment of the Bailiwick. A large proportion of these would have been designed, installed and maintained by volunteers willing to give up a portion of their free time. Following the challenges of the pandemic our parishes need a helping hand.

Floral Guernsey was formed around 30 years ago as an extension of the States Tourist Board to promote floral events throughout the Bailiwick of Guernsey. At that time, apart from a few private installations, public floral displays were a little meagre, especially when compared to other British tourist destinations such as Stratford upon Avon or Harrogate.

Why? We lived in such a wonderful place with a history of horticulture and yet we were not taking advantage of it. Beautiful floral displays would make a wonderful addition to our visitor offering after all.

Evan Ozanne was the deputy director of tourism at the time, and he decided to do something by getting a team of enthusiasts around him to make the most of our beautiful islands.

The Floral Guernsey Council was formed, an independent organisation run almost entirely by volunteers and funded by a combination of States grants and private sponsorship. In 2023, the council is currently looking for volunteers who can bring expertise to the organisation and help it plan its growth for the benefit of the community.

In June 1996 the council held its first major event. This was the inaugural Floral Guernsey Show in Cambridge Park, which attracted around 12,000 people to experience our own miniature version of Chelsea. This was repeated again in 1997 and a year later the Floral Guernsey Festival was held in the first week of June.

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Floral Guernsey fever really took hold. This was when the island saw its first successes in the Britain in Bloom competitions and hundreds of volunteers around the parishes rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Floral Guernsey. Without them our parishes and smaller islands cannot look at their best and make each of us proud. These wonderful displays add magic to our municipal areas and put a huge smile on people’s faces.

The great thing is that becoming a volunteer need not be a huge commitment. You can choose how many hours you want to give. Some just do a few hours each month, while those with more time on their hands throw themselves into it with vigour and great gusto.

Floral Guernsey’s patron is Dame Mary Perkins and we are responsible for the Floral Community Competition, which is part of the National RHS Britain in Bloom competition. There are many fine gardens in Guernsey and we help people to open them to the public on behalf of local charities, run family activities and we can give expert advice. We are also proud of the legacy work we undertake such as the magnificent Floral Guernsey garden at Candie Gardens. Pop in and take a look.

So, if you want to volunteer and give something back to our beautiful island then email info@floralguernsey.co.uk and we will put you in touch with your local Floral Guernsey organisers.

I want to leave you with this inspirational quote: ‘Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.’

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