Friendship stories

Jill Mace (left) and Barbara met through Amersham in Bloom and have become firm friends

Jill’s friendship story

Jill Mace and Barbara Spalding met through Amersham in Bloom. They share a love of gardening and volunteering with this group has provided them with support through both good times and tough times.

In 2013, I had finally retired from work and, although I enjoyed a number of hobbies, I felt the need to put something back into Amersham, the town where I have lived for nearly 40 years. I saw an advert looking for volunteers for Amersham in Bloom and it ticked all my boxes. I was a keen gardener and had always been involved in community projects.

“The first year was particularly hard work as there were hardly any volunteers – but I loved every minute.”

Working with Steve Catanach, the group’s co-ordinator, I felt inspired and was delighted when, for the first time in many years, we won Gold at the Britain in Bloom regional awards.

At the beginning of the following year, Barbara joined and although we are very different people, we hit it off straight away. We enjoyed working together, as well as visiting local garden centres for inspiration. Other people began to hear about Bloom and our band of volunteers grew. We now have around 25 lovely people who regularly work together. A couple of times a year we will have a Bloom get together where we can all relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Sadly in 2019, my husband Doug died and in 2020, Barbara’s husband Geoff passed away. Barbara and I supported each other through this difficult period and then through Covid.

Volunteers help enhance the town through planting, cleanliness and sustainability

In 2022, Amersham in Bloom were crowned Overall winners at the Britain in Bloom UK Finals

“Whenever possible we carried on Blooming – enjoying the fresh air, each other’s company and Barbara’s shortbread!”

We now have a little group of ‘Bubbly Bloomers’, some of whom have also lost their husbands, and from time to time we enjoy lunch together and a glass of fizz. We are a special group, all with a common interest – gardening – and that’s what brought us together.

“Without Bloom, our paths would not have crossed, and friendships would have been missed.”

Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry but, most importantly, we support each other and as a team, we are all incredibly proud of our achievements with Amersham in Bloom.

Britain in Bloom inspires community groups in towns, cities and villages to make positive changes to their local environment through horticultural, environmental and community action. Find out why your group should join. In 2022, Amersham in Bloom was crowned overall winners at the Britain in Bloom UK Finals. Find out more about the group.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.