CAPTION: The competition winners with Bishop Robert at Exeter Cathedral

Churchyards praised for encouraging wildlife and biodiversity

Posted: 27th September, 2019

The judges of Devon’s Best Churchyard competition have praised the number of churchyard groups who are trying to encourage wildlife and biodiversity with a range of initiatives including bug hotels, vegetable and herb gardens and wildflower meadows.

This year’s award was presented by the Bishop of Exeter in a ceremony at Exeter Cathedral on 25 September.

The winners, Penny and Paul Kurowski, who manage the volunteer churchyard team at All Saints, East Budleigh, said they were “euphoric and stunned” to have won.

The competition is run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England Devon branch and this is its second year.

The judges visited every churchyard which entered and said East Budleigh was a “classic English churchyard with a lot going on, beautifully looked after by a team of dedicated volunteers who clearly take part in their role.”

Judge Ian Buxton said: “We were really impressed this year by all the initiatives put in place by churchyards to encourage wildlife and biodiversity, including lots of bug hotels, a minibeast trail, vegetable and herb gardens, wildlife spotting survey forms and the creation of wildflower meadows.

The winning churchyard at East Budleigh

“Molland even provided a pit stop for walkers and cyclists, which was brilliant, with water bottles, snacks and a bicycle repair kit.”

Paul Kurowski said: “I am a churchwarden, the whole environment of the church, the village and the community is so important to us.

“That’s why we are prepared to work hard and make the effort.”

His wife Penny said: “It’s so rewarding, we love gardening anyway, so this is just a mega gardening task!”

Bishop Robert is the Church of England’s spokesperson on Rural Affairs.

Speaking at the awards ceremony he said: “Churchyards are often called God’s Acre.

“They are places of peace and contemplation but also bio-diversity.

“They offer a place of belonging, a link with the generations which have gone before.

“They hold the history of a community”

The runners up were Holy Trinity Parish Church, Ilfracombe, and St Mary’s Molland.

St Peter’s, Dalwood, St Edmund King and Martyr, Kingsbridge and St Margaret and St Andrew, Littleham-cum-Exmouth, were highly commended.

If you would like to know about how to encourage wildlife and biodiversity in churchyards please contact Chris Keppie, Diocese of Exeter Church and Society Officer , by email or phone.