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The art of hedgelaying

Monday 9 Dec 2019

It was the annual Wyre & Myerscough Hedgelaying competition at the weekend.

L3 Ag Jack Thornton

The event forms part of the Lancashire and Westmorland Hedgelaying Association’s Grand Prix of competitions, where competitors, including some Myerscough students, take part in the ancient rural craft over four classes – Championship, Open, Starter and Novice. The standard of hedgelaying as always was very high and the judges had a tough job deciding the winners of each class.

The event provided a great opportunity for people to get involved in high quality sustainable hedgerow management and it was also a superb networking opportunity with farmers, hedgelaying contractors and countryside officers there demonstrating and competing in this ancient craft in the Lancashire and Westmorland style.

Craig Thompson is Head of Agriculture and Countryside at Myerscough College and said: ‘’It’s a really sustainable way to manage hedges and preserve their life. Hedgelaying is a dying skill but a very important one for our countryside.

‘’A well maintained hedge will keep better than a fence. They also provide shelter for livestock much better. It’s a lot better for the environment and a very green way of helping wildlife too. In addition, there’s some good money to be made. It’s a great skill to have and contractors make a good living from it.

‘’Hedgelaying is a sustainable hedgerow management practice and ensures the hedgerow remains stockproof whilst offering shelter from wind and rain and maximising biodiversity benefit. It also significantly prolongs the life of the hedge.

‘’Congratulations to all the prize winners, and especially Craig Proctor, who took Overall Best Hedgelayer. Notable mentions also to our Level 3 Agriculture student Jack Thornton, who took first prize in the New Starter class, and David Martindale, who took third prize in the Novice class.

‘’Many thanks to the judges, Peter Ainsworth and Geoff Whitley. Thanks also to Andy Walling for allowing us to use his hedge and field for access. Thanks too to Duncan Byrne – Wyre Borough Council Coast & Countryside Officer, and the Wyre Borough Council volunteers for their support in joint organisation and sponsorship of this event.’’

Alison Boden, Coast and Countryside Manager at Wyre Council comments: “We are delighted to support this event and once again it was a great success despite the weather!

''As well as giving competitors a chance to demonstrate their skills it’s a great opportunity for spectators to come along and watch this ancient countryside craft first hand and to see professionals in the craft at work.”

18-year-old David Martindale is studying a Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Agriculture at Myerscough College and took part in the competition this year.

He said: ‘’Last year during my course we had a few lessons in basics of how to lay a hedge, and I went along to the competition last year and got a feel for it.

‘’Hedgelaying is quite hard work. I actually welding gloves for protection as they’re all hawthorn hedges and quite prickly!’’

The full results were as follows:

Championship Class

1st Craig Procter (& Best Overall Hedger)

2nd Andrew Kirkwood                

3rd Peter Gibson              

Open Class

1st John Handley

2nd Steven Boyes             

3rd William Bell  

4th James Haigh   

Novice Class

1st Jon Oliver

2nd James Yates-Bell

3rd David Martindale      

4th Nicky Leeth 

Starter Class

1st Jack Thornton             

2nd John Martindale

3rd Tom Cook              

by Dave Salmon