Family affair helped to win Shropshire gardening prize

The winner of a historic Shropshire gardening cup, which was revived for the first time last year during the pandemic, has been announced.

Sarah Marshall and daughter Maddie Sanderson, 14, won the gardening competition
Sarah Marshall and daughter Maddie Sanderson, 14, won the gardening competition

Residents of Bradford Estates were invited to enter the Garden Challenge Cup earlier this year but it was Sarah Marshall, 52, who came out on top.

“I can’t take all the credit,” she said.

"The garden transformation was a real family affair.”

Sarah said her children 14-year-old Maddie and 12-year-old Archie, as well as her partner Andrew, 54, had all worked hard in the garden to make it what it is today.

“We’re all absolutely over the moon,” she added.

Sarah Marshall and daughter Maddie Sanderson, 14, won the gardening competition

“Thank you to Vince and the team at Bradford Estates for choosing us.

“As a family, we all really enjoy gardening and have loved every minute of transforming the space since we moved in two years ago.

“The highlight has to be our new vegetable patch where we grow potatoes, carrots, onions, beetroot, French beans, leeks and tomatoes as well as our new fruit orchard where you’ll find apples, pears, cherries and plums.”

Sarah will have her name engraved on the cup as well as win £200.

“I think the money will go towards more plants and gardening supplies to be honest,” added Sarah, who lives near Shifnal.

“And of course we’ll treat the kids to a nice family meal out to celebrate.”

Alexander Newport presents a trophy to competition winners Sarah Marshall and daughter Maddie Sanderson

Second prize went to Chris Malpass and third to Roy Fencott after last year’s winner, Vince Derry, judged all the gardens individually.

“It was an honour to be asked back to judge the gardening competition this year,” said Vince, who now works as a groundsman on the estates.

“As part of my new job, I come across beautiful gardens and fantastic ideas all the time and it was a privilege to recognise the talent here on the estates throughout the competition."

The cup was originally awarded by managing director Alexander Newport’s grandfather, the 6th Earl of Bradford, in 1952 to employees on the estates.

It was highly competitive and came with a lot of kudos on the estates, with winners being invited to the Earl’s office.

Engraved on the 70-year-old cup itself are all the former winners of the competition, including Vince.

Alexander said: “It was great to see so many residents taking part in the gardening competition once again this year.

“With the various lockdowns over the past year, people have had more time to spend in their homes and gardens and we can really tell the difference which is why we were delighted to bring back this traditional competition and celebrate the lovely gardens all over the estates.

“Congratulations to Sarah and thank you to all the entries for their hard work, we look forward to holding the competition again next year.”

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