Hedging their bets in annual competition
A PRESTIGIOUS event comes to the Wolds on Saturday.
It's the date of the National Hedge Laying Championship, which is being held this year at The Brocklesby Estate, near Great Limber.
Event spokesman John Vickery said: "About 100 hedgelayers from all over the UK come together to compete for the coveted title of Supreme Champion.
"The competition is based on eight different styles of hedge laying. Each competitor is required to cut and lay 10 yards of hedge in five hours. In the process they will between them utilise about 200 sawn wood stakes, 2,000 hazel stakes, plus three and a half miles of hazel binders to hold the hedges in position.
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"Judging takes place in the afternoon, with points being awarded for the cutting, neatness and appearance of the hedge and adherence to the traditional style being cut."
There will also be displays of historic tools, vintage tractors, trade stands and other related exhibitions, and the Brocklesby Hunt will show a parade of hounds.
Admission to the event, running from 9.30am, is free and there is ample space for parking.
Hedge laying declined after the First World War due to a shortage of labour, and then followed the depression and the Second World War.
After then, the availability of labour, the introduction of machines to cut hedges, wire fences and changes in agriculture that placed emphasis on production led to a further neglect of hedgerows.
By the 1960s, hedges were declining at an alarming rate. Lack of maintenance meant that hedges became tall and "gappy" with nothing at the bottom; in effect a line of trees. Many hedges were grubbed out to make larger fields that could be more efficiently managed by larger machinery.
In the 1970s, three hedgelayers – Fred Whitefoot, Clive Matthew and Valerie Greaves – realised that soon the valuable skills of hedgerow management that had been acquired over hundreds of years would be lost forever.
These founder members conceived the idea of setting up a national society to enable the skills to be documented and passed on.
Competitions were organised all over the country, and this national competition is now an annual event.
Legislation was introduced in 1997 to protect hedgerows, and the decline has now been halted.
For safety reasons, the road by the site will be closed to all traffic for the duration of the event.
For further information, visit www.hedgelaying.org.uk or e-mail email@example.com