By Tony Ridd. 

A gap of two years did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for the popular winter event that is the Isle of Wight hedgelaying competition.

With 28 competitors stepping up in three sections and laying 12 pitches of hedge, there was a real sense of excitement, helping keep people warm on a cold, yet sunny Saturday in February.

The competition was held at Little Duxmore Farm, by kind permission of The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), who entered two teams in the Landscape Therapy sponsored Team Section. Both were successful, with the HIWWT Staff winning, and the HIWWT Volunteers coming a respectable third, and claiming, ‘Best Laid Hedge using only Hand Tools’. An enthusiastic, ‘IW Young Farmers’ split them, losing out by a single point.

High standard from all

Tod Carder, local farmer from Hulverstone, successfully defended his Mary Sitch Novice Cup, from mainlander Gwyn Alford, beating him by two points.

The Open Section saw two local layers, Tom Murphy and Kingsley Hollis, compete against two mainlanders, Graham West and Matthew Beard, for top spot. Graham West triumphed, winning the Dennis Russell Cup, by a clear 5 points, with Matthew Beard runner-up, beating Tom by a solitary point.

Richard Grogan, IW AONB Lead Officer and Alan Ashby, former Supreme National Champion from Kent, had the unenviable task of judging. Both complimented the high standard of work from all competitors, and the competitions friendly spirit.

The competition was a successful countryside social event and good excuse to get out on a cold winter’s day and catch up with people perhaps not seen for a year or two. Over 200 spectators attended throughout the day, and there were home-made cakes, drinks, hot bacon and sausages baps on offer to help keep warm. On show in the barn and outside were, Ralph Griffin, displaying his impressive Bill Hook collection, Vectis Vintage and Engine Club, Vectis Searchers (metal detecting club), Catchment Sensitive Farming and Wight Rural Hub, all happy to chat and share their knowledge.

Co-organiser, Matt Chatfield who presented the prizes said: “It’s great to see there is still so much interest and passion in this traditional craft”, while fellow organiser Tony Ridd added: “This year’s competition has been one of the most enjoyable we have ever had”.

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