Date published: July 21, 2021
From left to right: Councilor Phillip Massey (Rochdale in Bloom committee member), Robert Clegg (administrator), Nick Dent (chief gardener), Neil Williams (president of the Rotary Club of Rochdale), Sam Wells (CEO )
Rochdale in Bloom and the Rotary Club of Rochdale have partnered to support Springhill Hospice by commemorating the memory of the late and highly respected gardening expert, Bill Blackledge MBE.
Honored for his service to the In Bloom campaign, Mr. Blackledge died in hospital last year after contracting Covid-19 from knee surgery. He was in his late sixties.
To create a lasting tribute to Mr. Blackledge, twelve fruit trees were donated to Springhill Hospice to create a new orchard near the entrance to their award-winning gardens. They are made from a mixture of apple, cherry, plum and pear.
A member of the Royal Horticultural Society and President of North West in Bloom, Mr. Blackledge had been involved in the In Bloom campaign for over 20 years. He had been a regular visitor to Rochdale on the jury and had developed a real appreciation for the borough and the commitment of the wide range of volunteers and community groups working to improve their local environment.
Rochdale in Bloom Chair, Roy Down said, âBill was a great friend to Rochdale in Bloom and a personal mentor to me.
âWhen Rochdale won the National Britain in Bloom Awards in 2018, he guided us and with his advice we took gold. He was a firm believer in the benefits of In Bloom for local communities and we as a group wanted to do something to remember his life and work.
“The hospice was the perfect location and we were extremely grateful when Rochdale Rotary stepped in to help make it happen.”
Speaking on behalf of the Rotary Club of Rochdale, current President Neil Williams said: âWe were very sorry to learn of the sad loss of Mr. Blackledge and, as strong supporters of Rochdale in Bloom, we have was happy to sponsor the project to cover the cost of the trees and also support the work of Springhill Hospice.
In the Bloom Gold Award winners themselves, the hospice gardens offer a nice extension to the care provided inside.
Hospice General Manager Sam Wells said, âThe trees will be a beautiful addition to our grounds and will create a living memory that also supports the natural environment. They will be available for sponsorship, helping to provide much needed care to our patients and their families. “
The Springhill Hospice grounds on Broad Lane in Rochdale will be open to visitors on Sunday August 8 with the return of its annual Summer Garden celebration for families.
Social distancing tours of the beautifully manicured gardens will be available with locally grown plants and garden produce for sale as well as outdoor games, craft stalls and home-made pizzas.
The summer garden festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with free entry.