Well the crowds started to arrive over an hour before lift off and there was an excitement in the air not unlike the January sales in Regent Street!
It was the Martyr Worthy Plant Sale in Itchen Valley Parish and there were literally hundreds of plants available to sell all in aid of Itchen Valley Parish. But instead of shopping trolleys, we had 50 or so wheelbarrows for those early enough to get them – lined up like jeeps stockpiled before D-Day.
This event, which happens every other year, raises a huge amount of money for the church (I did even start to feel slightly sorry for the Garden Centres all over Hampshire whose takings must have been down this Saturday) but even more importantly, its a great way of getting to know new neighbours and for cross valley cooperation.
To say that organising this event is a huge amount of work is no exaggeration. With a usual village fete one might have one planning meeting and a wash up afterwards. For the plant sale there are weekly potting sessions from the Autumn, all the way through to the event itself. Hours and hours of time much of it spent by Katherine Impey and Sophie Jackson on many a cold winter’s evening.
And then there is the organisation of signs, cash collection, car parking, picking up of items and departure all of which run incredibly smoothly. Remarkable really – even Ikea could learn a thing or two from the Martyr Worthy plant sale. Then coffees and teas and wonderful cakes….
Its all done rather well in fact. But then I think that probably anything organised by Admiral Mike Gretton is going to go well – if you have had to manage an aircraft carrier at sea with Harriers or Sea King helicopters landing and taking off in all weathers, then perhaps even the complexities of the Martyr Worthy Plant sale is going to seem like a walk in the park.
So we have a lot to thank Mike for in terms of organisation and efficiency, particularly appreciated given what he already does for St Peter’s Catholic Church in Winchester.
Guiding our neighbours into a chain of command and clear designation of responsibilities requires a lot of tact and Mike has managed it. And he led an impressive team of people across the Valley:
The many people who set up on 16th April: Katherine Impey; Sophie Jackson, Appleby; Geoffrey Burnand; Alison Canfor; Zazie Carter; Verity Coleman; Vera Collings; Lucy Collis; Olivia Cox; Cathy Dickinson; Caroline Faber; Ghouls Fox; Gill Graham Maw; Guy Green; Gilly Greenwood; Robin Greenwood; Catherine Hahn; Karen Mahoney; Isobel Pinder; Amanda Seymour; Pauline Tovell; Steph Gretton.
And on the day it self:
1. At the Entry Point: Philip Windsor-Aubrey (Lead); Lee Tovell; John Platt; Amanda Seymour `
2. At the Payment Point.Shane Chichester; Rolls Coleman; Geoffrey Burnand
3. Doing the Totting Up. Isobel Pinder; Verity Coleman; Tim Reid; Jules Cox; Sally Johnston; and Pauline Tovell.
4. At Traffic Control/Car Parking. William Parry (Lead); Peter Collings; Hugh Fox; Richard Hunt; Ian Carter.
5. Acting as Plant advisors. In addition to Katherine Impey and Sophie Jackson (Lead): Lucy Collis; Olivia Cox; Gill G-Moore; Gilly Greenwood; Liz Platt; Emily W-Aubrey; Cathy Dickinson; Alison Canfor; Vera Collings; Tim Clapp
6. Running the Holding Bay/Pick up area/manage wheelbarrows: Simon Ffennell (Lead); Quentin & Louise James; Robin Greenwood; Caroline Faber; Lucy de Laszlo; Charles Pinder.
7. Running the Catering/Produce Stall Lucinda (Lead); Sally Cannons; Patricia Ringrose-Vose; Catherine Hahn; Laura Hanley; Stephanie Gretton.
Thank you ALL SO MUCH to all of you for the fantastic work you did today. A particular thank you to Andrew and Katherine Impey for hosting the plant sale and letting everyone maraud over their garden and to Katherine Impey and Sophie Jackson for carrying out so much of the potting and work throughout the Autumn and Winter. Just outstanding – a wonderful exercise in cooperation across the Valley also.
And if you did smell a whiff of AVGAS and hear the distant roar of a Sea Harrier starting its engines…then that would not be entirely surprising…
Revd Alex Pease
PS the Plant Sale made £6022 for the church and 360 adults came through the turnstile – both up on 2014. An incredible result – well done everyone again!