The search has begun to find the worthy winner of this year’s Devon CPRE ‘Best Churchyard’ competition, which aims to recognise and reward the work of those who strive to increase biodiversity in these green spaces.
The competition is now in its fifth year. Last year, the moorland town of Ashburton fielded the winning churchyard, while a burial ground in East Devon was runner-up; both places had gone all out to create welcoming sanctuaries for people and wildlife.
Devon CPRE Director and judge Penny Mills says, “The hundreds of churchyards and burial grounds dotted around the county contribute so much to our enjoyment of Devon in both rural and urban settings. That’s why we launched these awards in 2018. As a result, more is being done for wildlife, for the environment and for people; sometimes, it’s a new management plan to encourage wildflower meadows or a scheme to allow local people to grow their own veg, but even simple changes like a new welcome sign, more bird boxes or a drinking bowl for dogs can make a big difference.”
Penny adds, “During the pandemic, Devon’s residents have appreciated the green spaces around their churches like never before. In some places, they were the only public space for people to exercise and be at one with nature during Lockdown. Last year’s winner in Teignbridge is a case in point. The churchyard at St Andrews in Ashburton is the biggest green space in the town and we were amazed by the ingenuity and innovation employed in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Ashburton took the use of QR codes to a new and inventive level, creating trails and gentle challenges to encourage children and the young at heart to hop or jump around the perimeter of the church building!”
Head judge Ivan Buxton says, “Penny and I have been privileged to travel the length and breadth of Devon visiting these wonderful places, some of which have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. It’s been especially heartening in recent years to see how entrants have responded to our comments and taken onboard our feedback to create even more welcoming spaces for people and wildlife. The bar is now set incredibly high and we look forward to seeing what this year’s entrants have to offer.”
The number of entrants has been growing year on year. The charity hopes to receive more entries than ever in 2022. Full details of how to enter and some top tips for would-be winners can be found on the Devon CPRE website. The deadline for entries is March 31, 2022.
Finalists receive sustainable oak plaques to mark their achievements, made in Devon, of course. The winning churchyard also receives £200 to spend on further improvements.
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