A STUNNING flower festival has been opened in a Durham dales market town's church.

The Wolsingham Flower Festival, organised by Durham County Councillor Anita Savory, opened in St Mary and St Mary's and St Stephen's Church in, Wolsingham, on Friday and will run until Sunday, May 22.

Durham County Council chairman Watts Stelling attended the opening, along with guest of honour the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon.

The Northern Echo: Durham County Council chairman Watts Stelling and flower festival organiser Councillor Anita SavoryDurham County Council chairman Watts Stelling and flower festival organiser Councillor Anita Savory

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The displays around the church were all associated with organisations and businesses in Wolsingham and the wider Weardale area.

There was also a magnificent display for HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by Jean Gibbon, who is a renowned arranger holding role of national and area associate of the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies.

She also arranged two other popular displays dedicated to the Weardale Policing Team and the Weardale Association of the Prosecution of Felons.


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Funding for the event came from Cllr Savory’s Neighbourhood Budget.

Dorothy Blakey and Glenis Robinson worked hard to create a magical archway around the entrance to the church, with the former taking her life into her hands on a high step ladder to complete the effect.

Guests who attended the preview remarked they didn’t know which way to look because the church was “positively filled with beautiful and ingenious displays”.

Celebrated local arranger, Norman Deacon from Tow Law, created with the help of others, two huge displays at the front of the church – one dedicated to the Weardale Railway with a steam train as the focal point, complete with steam coming from the funnel.

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His other displays included the River Wear and fishing, Wolsingham Co-op and Killhope Wheel.

Joy Willis, of Rookhope, had a “memorable and clever” arrangement near the pulpit, which represented the Weardale Way, which was brimming with foliage and natural phenomena from the countryside.

There was a brilliant display to recognise the oldest of Weardale institutions – Wolsingham School – by former pupil and talented florist, Christine Craig.

Christine honed her natural talent under the watchful eye of Frosterley’s Emmie Shaw, who also had displays at the festival along with many of her pupils. Her own interpretations of other Dale institutions past and present – Wolsingham Steelworks and Gardiner’s – were fascinating and educational.

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The altar was awash with displays depicting the different religions in the Dale, including one dedicated to the Sisters of Mercy whose presence is much missed in Wolsingham.

Pupil Army cadets from Wolsingham School lined the pathway to the church and inside other pupils were on hand to offer canapes and drinks to guests. All were a credit to the school.

The week-long festival will be open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and Sundays between 12 noon and 4pm.

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Next Saturday night (May 21) will see a performance by Stanhope Silver Band, which is another long-established organisation that was represented in a display by Stanhope Parish Clerk, Susan Anderson and former Stanhope Parish Councillor Alison Humble from Cowshill.

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They also arranged an display to represent the Weardale Agricultural Shows.

Our own band will be joined in the concert by the Durham Constabulary Band, which will begin at 7pm. Ticket enquiries to Anita Savory on 01388 527594.

The festival will end with a closing service on Sunday May 22 at 2pm and led by Rev Jon Whalley.


The Northern Echo:


The Northern Echo:


The Northern Echo:


The Northern Echo:


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