Flower Festival 2019

The “Rainmaker” had certainly been at work in Thakeham during the days prior to the 2019 Thakeham Flower Festival. This caused the organisers some concern, but Friday the first day of the Festival, dawned and at last the rain had stopped.

This event is held every two years, and the main highlights are of course the flower displays in church and the open gardens.  The theme in church this year was “Walk on the Wild side”, to say the arrangements were breath taking is an understatement, everyone who entered the church made such wonderful comments. The flowers were mostly wild and natural which was a different approach to the more traditional formal arrangements. There was even a flowing waterfall, and trees 6 – 7 ft tall. Cynthia Julian and her team of around 20 ladies (and some gentlemen) had worked wonders over the days leading up to the Festival to transform the church into an amazing garden. The wild flower theme continued outside the church with wild flowers on either side of the church path.   

The open gardens were located mainly on The Street and Cray’s Lane, the owners generously opened their gardens to the public on Saturday and Sunday. These are always most popular with visitors; this year was no exception, so much so visitors still bought tickets to visit the gardens in the torrential rain on Sunday morning – nothing was going to stop them visiting these beautiful gardens. The organisers of the flower Festival are extremely grateful to the homeowners for allowing visitors into their gardens.

Refreshments were served in the church rooms during the three days of the Festival. Wynn Lednor and her team were kept busy, serving lots of delicious home-made cakes, scones, sandwiches and salads, and of course copious amounts of tea and coffee.  On Saturday and Sunday there was a BBQ, when you could indulge in Burgers or Hotdogs. If you felt like being tempted to something a little stronger there was a “Pimm’s Tent”.  Also, on Saturdayand Sunday there were many stalls selling their wares, children’s activities, and the open Bell tower in church. Visitors were entertained during the day on Saturday by musicians in the open “mic” tent. Sunday there was a host of entertainers, Thakeham Morris Men, Magog Ladies Morris, Worthing Steel Band and Happy Days Big Band. It was appreciated by all involved that these entertainers had come along to help create the friendly and enjoyable atmosphere at the Festival. Sunday morning the usual dog show was held, sadly this event was held in the torrential rain, but it did not deter proud dog owners from showing their dogs at this popular event, many taking home the coveted Red Rosette. A Teddy Bear Parachute Jump was also held on Sunday in the church Bell Tower. A mention must be made of the men who stood in the rain to organise the car parks, not an easy task even in good weather.

On Friday evening in Thakeham village hall, there was a Cheese and Wine tasting event and an Auction of Promises. The cheese and Wine tastings were organised by Cathy and Clive Roberts of the old Forge Restaurant in Storrington, with splendid wines and delicious cheeses to sample, Clive gave a brief history of each wine.  This was followed by the renown auctioneer Rupert Toovey valuing treasures members of the audience had brought along. These items included a “Beheading Sword”, many items of jewellery, and a book written and signed by David Livingstone. After the valuations Rupert proceeded with an auction of promises. As always in his imitable style Rupert made this not only  profitable but entertaining and enjoyable.  Cliff Purvis a member of Thakeham church, was compere for the evening and kept the event flowing.

Saturday evening was an evening of entertainment, also held in Thakeham village hall.  Cliff was again the compere. The entertainment commenced with The Sussex Kings of Harmony,an all age male voice choir, who sing Barbershop in substance and style. At one point during their act they engaged the audience in participation, which caused some hilarity. It was then time for the mouth watering two course supper, enjoyed by everyone. Cliff introduced the second entertainer Mike Fairall a lifelong close-up magician and member of the magic circle. Everyone was mesmerised by this amazing act, again there was audience participation, but no one had an answer as to how he managed to achieve the impossible. This had been another enjoyable evening joining together members of Thakeham church, members of the local community and visitors from further afield.

At 5.00pm on Sunday the Thakeham church music group sang and played inspirational songs and hymns, whilst the last remaining visitors to the church viewed the beautiful arrangements. This was followed by the bell ringers calling everyone to the final event of the Festival – the Songs of Praise service, this is, by tradition, the closing event.  Members of the congregation had been asked to select a hymn in advance. With everyone in good voice the rousing well known hymns were sung with enthusiasm and, as always, this was thought by everyone attending to be a truly fitting close to such a tremendous successful Festival. As everyone left the church they could once again hear the church bells ringing out as the weekend came to an end.

The Rev. Sara-Jane Stevens, along with the chair of the Flower Festival committee Derek Osborne, wish to offer a huge  thank you to everyone who helped in some way to make the weekend such a success, and to all who came to visit the church, open gardens and evening events.