There comes a time when even the most dedicated of gardeners have to down tools and call it a day.
The women of Hambleton in Bloom have clocked up a combined 131 years of pruning and planting, all in the name of keeping their village looking its best.
But with an average age of close to 80, they have made the difficult decision to step aside –in the hope a new generation will step in and keep the good work going.
Pat Bick, 78; Beryl Hartley, 81; Judy Newhouse, 74; Dorothy Rushton, 88; Margaret Reeves , 82; and Chris Seed, 70, are all residents of the village and have taken great pride in keeping it blossoming with displays and flowers.
But now looking for their green-fingered successors after realising their community-spirited work was beginning to take its toll.
Former Marks and Spencer worker Pat has been involved with the village displays for 30 years and said it was hard for her to quit.
“It is very sad we are unable to continue,” she said.
“None of us are getting any younger and it was time to call it a day.
“We can’t cope with the watering and weeding anymore.
“I hope and pray residents will come forward to carry on the work we have been doing.
“Many hands make light work so perhaps even a family could do it together.”
Retired teacher, Dorothy, the eldest of the ladies, has also been part of the team for three decades and says whoever takes over will enjoy it.
She said: “I think the role would suit newly retired people.
“It would be a full filling job for someone and I think they would need to show a great interest in it like we have.”
The village has a number of displays including the centenary of the first World War, a windmill, sailing boat and a welcome to Hambleton sign.
Beryl, who formerly worked for the Inland Revenue, has been part of the group for 13 years and said they all still want to maintain a presence in the community.
She said: “We all still want to do a litter pick on the last Friday of each month so we are still helping in Hambleton.”
The ladies are all part of the Womens Institute as well and have always had a monthly pub meeting to discuss plans they have for the village .
Pat said: “Some of our best ideas have probably come from drinking a bottle of wine together.”
Former civil servant Margaret is another of the women with 30 years experience in the group.
She said: “The village will look drab without the flowers being there so hopefully someone will step in as soon as possible.”
Treasurer of the group, Chris, has been part of the team for 14 years and says whoever takes over will get all the guidance they need.
The retired civil servant said: “As a team I’m sure we can nudge them in the right direction and help them out while we can. It’s such a worthwhile job and it makes you feel proud.”
Judy, who has been on the team for 14 years, explained how they fund their displays.
The retired farmer said: “We plan and organise events and have our annual fundraiser which goes toward paying for flowers and materials. We raised £550.51 this year from a cake and crafts sale and raffle.
“We also get a £600 grant from Wyre Council for being part of the ‘In Bloom’ programme.
The ladies also announced a parting gift for their retirement.
Pat said: “As our swansong we have decided to flood the village with 3,000 daffodils which we have paid Wyre Council to plant.”
Would you like to take over the secateurs?
The stage is now set for the next generation of gardeners to take over in Hambleton.
Pat says the women would love for some younger residents to get involved and carry on their work.
She added: “We would of course pass on our knowledge with respect to general maintenance and organising events. Unless some residents are prepared to take on the responsibilities,
the there will be no floral or associated activities, to the detriment of the village.”
If you are considering becoming part of the Hambleton in Bloom team get in touch with the clerk to Hambleton Parish Council, Yvonne Walton, by calling (01253) 828861 or 07703773785.
Multiple award winners
Hambleton has won many ‘In Bloom’ awards under the dedicated stewardship of its six retiring women.
Last year it was presented with a silver gilt medal for the Britain in Bloom competition in the ‘Large Village Category’.
The village also won gold in 2016 for Wyre in Bloom.
Even though the women have now retired from the competitions, they still have the chance to triumph this year, with the winners being announced in November.