All Saints collected ‘highly commended’ in 2020 churchyard competition
PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 November 2020
East Budleigh’s churchyard is one of two recognised in regional conservation awards.
All Saints Church, which won last year’s winner of Devon’s best churchyard competition, was highly commended alongside Exmouth’s Point in View Chapel.
It’s the third year of the competition organised by local countryside and conservation charity Devon CPRE and All Saints has won and finished as runner-up in the previous two years.
The awards celebrate churchyards which are managed to provide a peaceful haven for people and wildlife.
Each entry is visited by the judges and assessed on a range of criteria - they are not seeking the most pristine or manicured churchyards, but those which encourage biodiversity and offer something special to the local community.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s competition had to be run differently to previous years.
The judges waited until after lockdown travel restrictions were lifted in the summer to begin their on-site inspections.
Devon CPRE’s director Penny Mills, one of two judges, said: “Our 2020 competition has been an unusual one for the volunteers who look after the churchyards and for us, as we had to postpone judging until we were allowed to travel after lockdown.
“Then we had to make all our visits travelling the length and breadth of Devon in two cars, socially distanced, even eating our sandwiches at lunchtime.
“Ironically, we’d brought the competition forward this year to try to see the churchyards in their full glory of spring flowers, but the pandemic put paid to that.
“But we said we’d complete the competition by the autumn and we have.”
Fellow judge, Devon CPRE trustee Ivan Buxton, added: “The churchyards are all different, but every competition has to have a winner and we judge what we see on the day we visit.
“It was good to see that some of them had taken on board our comments from previous years and had acted on them: lots of bird boxes, bug hotels, new gates and signage.
“I am sure some will be disappointed this year that they haven’t won a prize.
“That’s why we’ve decided to award a certificate of merit to all the entrants who weren’t placed in the final four and didn’t win one.”
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