Hunstanton Community Orchard project up for RSPB award

A community project which has united families, groups and businesses in Hunstanton has been nominated for a regional award.

The Hunstanton Community Orchard could scoop the best local community project in the RSPB's Stepping Up for Nature awards.

The awards for the Eastern region are aimed at highlighting people and groups who 'go the extra mile' to help nature.

The project, situated next to the community centre, came to life in February when 100 volunteers planted 62 fruit trees. This was followed by pupils from Redgate Primary and Hunstanton Infant schools planting 1,200 wildflower plugs,

Kate Dunbar, who has led the project on behalf of Hunstanton Town Council, is delighted with the Stepping Up for Nature nomination.

She said: 'It's fantastic to be recognised, particularly by an organisation like the RSPB, and it has given everyone involved a big boost.'

She added: 'The orchard is really starting to come to life now. Everything is beginning to sprout and there is even blossom on some of the trees.'

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'We hope the orchard will become a place of beauty and tranquillity, a wonderful resource for education and a hub for the production of apple pies, jams, juices and chutneys.'

The orchard's fruit trees range from apple, pear and cherry to apricot, quince and medlar – with the Blatchford apple first grown in the town by nuseryman Fred Chilvers taking pride of place.

The trees, sponsored by families, community groups and businesses, are now being cared for by the Friends of Hunstanton Community Orchard.

Nest boxes have been provided by the RSPB and positioned on sycamore trees around the site and the Woodland Trust has supplied a fruiting hedge. There are also picnic tables which have been put in place for families to enjoy spending time in the orchard.

The judging panel for the awards include the naturalist and television presenter Mike Dilger, Richard Powell, regional director of the National Trust, and Matt Shardlow, Director of Buglife.

The EDP is backing the awards by running a series of monthly features in Weekend magazine. A piece on the Hunstanton Community Orchard will appear in the EDP on May 12.

There are six categories that can be entered. These are: Upcoming environmentalist (for under 18s); best local community project; best school project; best garden for wildlife; greenest business and lifetime achievement.

The awards are open to any individual or community in the RSPB's eastern region, which includes Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Application forms can be picked up from local RSPB and National Trust reserves, downloaded from www.rspb.org.uk/steppingup/do or requested on 01603 697591. Entries must be with the RSPB by September 1 2012.

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