Lilli Biggin and Charlotte Jones

Churchyard Gardeners

Lilli Biggin and Charlotte Jones, aged 14, have been the best of friends since they first met as five-year olds at Peppard Primary School. Lilli had been one of our Junior Editors on the Peppard News Team, so it was great for me to catch up with her again.

The girls are now at different secondary schools but still have a close bond and both decided to work towards a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. To gain the award the candidates have to prove that they have done three months each of a physical activity, a skilled activity and volunteering. They then continue with one of their chosen activities for a further three months.

Churchyard Gardeners

Charlotte Jones (left) and Lilli Biggins

Additionally, the candidates have to go on an expedition involving two days and an overnight stay. Both girls chose swimming for their physical activity. Charlotte doing synchronised swimming and Lilli getting up at 04:30 once a week to swim for an hour and a half. Singing was Charlotte’s skill and Lilli worked for her Junior Sports Leader Award. For their volunteering the girls decided to help look after the churchyard and church at All Saints’.

Most of their work involved gardening, something the girls knew little about before they started. Lilli told me she had not appreciated how much work goes into keeping the churchyard tidy. The girls met Ian Fraser, who looks after the churchyard, once a week for an hour and worked under his instruction. Lilli and Charlotte undertook weeding, planting, dead heading the flowers, watering, raking up dead leaves and sticks, sieving stones, turning a compost heap, removing moss from gravestones, cleaning the bird bath and removing bamboo canes. Inside the church they polished the brass and sorted out the children’s toys.

Although horticulture may not be on the girls’ lists of career ideas, they said they loved working with Ian and have learnt a lot of things they previously knew nothing about. They are very grateful to him for the opportunity to do the physical part towards gaining their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Awards under his supervision and would recommend it to anyone else undertaking the award.

They have now completed all required of them to gain their awards and the experience has made both girls determined to work for their silver awards.

Sue Nickson