August Ansley Jottings

It is the time of year when the church family and friends of St Laurence put in a tremendous amount of work to prepare the church and churchyard for the Flower Festival which takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend.  The Flower Festival began fifty nine years ago.  A few years ago we had the opportunity to see some film footage of the preparations for years 3 and 4 of the festival at St Laurence.  It was fascinating to see people arriving at meetings in lovely summer dresses and noticing the car models in use at the time.  Many of the people in the film are known to present day locals and quite a few are family members of people who still help to organise and run the festival today.

My involvement in the festival must have begun some time after I moved to the village in January 1984.  I may have been away on holiday over the flower festival weekend during my early years in Ansley.  I am not sure looking back whether I actually volunteered or whether I was asked to help with a particular task at my first flower festival.  My memories from my first year was of feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of flowers and greenery and the displays made a deep impression on me.  I was especially impressed by the water features that appeared in the vestry.

Another memory is the serving of refreshments in the former scout marquee.  The ground was quite uneven and water had to be carried from the taps by the porch to the boiler in the tent, whatever the weather.  Many people must remember the marquee with some fondness as it had served its purpose for many years before being sent elsewhere – not retired from service but still in use for a few more years.

I suppose one of the joys of the Flower Festival is seeing the community coming together with a joint purpose and achieving so much.  Friendships are built and renewed each year, visitors come to appreciate the beautiful flowers and displays and often talk over their memories of Ansley from earlier years.

Many of the principles of the flower festival emerged either from its beginning in 1964, or a little later.  After two years the themes came from the Bible and depicted particular verses.  There was a small charge for the programme for a few years but nowadays there is no charge for entry.  Funds were raised by donations for the work of the church, with a proportion going to agreed local charities.  The displays would be accepted and valued as the best effort that people with different skills in flower arranging could offer.  There would be no competitive aspect to the festival.  Locals would be encouraged to use flowers and greenery from their own gardens.

These principles have been followed over the years.  The opportunity to cast our burdens on the Lord, to thank Him for His blessings and to offer a prayer will continue this year as it has in previous years