All competitors in the novice category had been attending training courses – run by the Durham Hedgerow Partnership and funded by the Heart of Teesdale Partnership – over the previous two years to learn this ancient craft. The final course, attended by Allan Rayner from Cotherstone, had finished only the day before the competition and so the organisers arranged a mock-competition which Allan failed to finish in time. On the day, however, Allan surprised everyone to not only finish but win the novice category outright!
The award was one of several handed out during the competition organised by the Durham Hedgerow Partnership which is hosted by Durham County Council. Hedge layers of all levels took part at Piercebridge Farm and Organic Shop near Darlington with one of the 18 competitors coming all the way from East Sussex to join in.
Cumbria’s Peter Gibson took the top prize in the Open category – the highest level of difficulty – as well as the Overall Champions Cup. 86-year-old Stan Pinkney from Spennymoor rolled back the years to take third place in the Intermediate competition but was delighted to also take home the coveted Best Local Competitor trophy.
Sue Mullinger, chair of the Durham Hedgerow Partnership, said: “We’d like to say a massive congratulations to everyone who took part as well as our worthy winners. One of the key aims of the Durham Hedgerow Partnership is to ensure these traditional skills are not lost and our competition gives people a rare chance to see talented people practicing a truly ancient craft.”