All assembled promptly for a safety briefing by Phil Hart, which was then followed by the draw for cants. It was really great to welcome a number of new cutters to the competition, with a healthy representation from Hampshire.
Despite the gloomy, grey weather and strengthening winds, the rain held off and the competition started promptly at 9am with 31 cutters tackling a really nice double planted hawthorn hedge, about 12 feet high. Competitors were under the eagle eye of the judges, who were ably assisted by some enthusiastic stewards.
We were honoured to have the judging services of Roy Champion from Surrey Hedge Laying Group and Tony Ridd from Isle of Wight Hedge Laying Group. This augers well for future collaborations between the organisations for the furtherance of hedge laying.
Apart from the novice class, cutters had a choice to make early on, as to whether to get the chainsaw out. The champions led the way firing up their machine in double quick time. Most opted for chainsaws, given the number of stems per cant and the flail line which had created some meshing of stems. A few hardy (foolish?) souls resisted the temptation and carried on with hand tools only.
As the day progressed the hedge was got down and was starting to take shape. A few spectators turned up and the field margin got very muddy. Piles of brash started to grown in size.
Tim Russ, the photographer from Bridport, toured the hedge doing 7 laps of the hedge, getting some great photos which can be found on following blog pages.
Staking using David Dunk premium quality chestnut stakes progressed at pace, with binding using SEHLS coppiced hazel binders from Surrey.
In an instant the 5hrs was over, with the majority finishing within the allotted time, but an extra half an hour given to novices who struggled to get done on time.
Judges finalised their assessments and compiled scores after many tours of each cant, as cutters retreated to the car park and made their way to Oakhanger Village Hall for the lunch and presentation of prizes .
Around 50 sat down to a satisfying meal put on by the nearby Hanger Inn and drinks supplied by Frank Wright. Whilst this was going on Mark Schofield was punching scores into his laptop and was soon able to confirm that the judges had added up their scores correctly.
After the meal Phil Hart led the prize giving, ably aided by Kate Faulkner, land owner and leading light in the Selborne Land Partnership, who are enthusiasts of hedge laying.
All in all the event went really well and was greatly enjoyed by all. It was great to see Life members Val and Peter Lewes attending and enjoying themselves and recounting stories of legendary Nelson Russell, which can be found at http://master-hedgelayer.co.uk/ Hopefully we can get more Life members to come along next year.
Thanks must be recorded to:-
- Judges- Clive Gilligan, Alan Ashby, Roger Taylor, Tony Ridd and Roy Champion
- Stewards- Roger Ferrand and Frank Wright
- Competition organising team: - Tim Hughes, Frank Wright, Phil Hart , Matthew Beard , Mark Schofield , Mike Parrott
- The Faulkner family, Selborne Land Partnership
- Dave Droscher for making the splendid new cant markers and transport box for the tea urn.
- All cutters and spectators for supporting the event, some of which travelling a long way and had an even longer journey home in another February storm.
- Results for the 2022 Competition were can be accessed via the link below :-
Photos can be found on the next pages on the blog
SEHLS Treasurer 23.2.22