Green-fingered grandmother from Mosborough wins city allotment prize

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A grandmother from Mosborough has been named the winner of this year’s Bolton Cup – Sheffield’s top prize for the city’s best-kept allotment.

Doreen Skipper, who has been walking in the area which is now Moss Way allotments for more than three decades, will be officially presented with her prize at this year’s Sheffield Fayre, which takes place on Sunday 30 and Monday 31 August at Norfolk Heritage Park.

The competition, which runs each year across Sheffield, was sponsored by Ferndale Garden Centre.

The news comes during National Allotments Week, organised by the National Allotment Society, which runs until Sunday, 16 August.

Mrs Skipper, aged 75, said she was “absolutely thrilled” to win, and added: “I really worked hard on it this year and when they said I’d won it just didn’t sink in at all.

“I dug a pond out and put a solar fountain in. I’m 75 and I’ve done it all myself too. I’ve got a box for female frogs and toads to find cover during the winter, I’ve got bird boxes and insect boxes - I know it looked better than last year.

“I have a passion for growing from seed and I eat everything from the allotment. I freeze everything as soon as it’s picked, so it’s at its best, too. That way, you’ve got broccoli, asparagus and all sorts in the winter.

“I bottle beetroot, make picked onions, chutneys and jams. It’s my way of life, what I’ve done since being six years old.

“I’ve always grown. I’m at the allotment every day and people ring me if I’m not there, to see where I am.

“If it’s warm I can sit and watch the butterflies, it’s amazing. And in the winter I’ve got a log-burning stove to keep warm, so I can be there 365 days a year.”

Mrs Skipper added: “It’s a brilliant way of life. Not everyone thinks so though – I’ve got six children and not one of them helps me.

“I can put up with that though, because one of the nicest things is when I give my six-year-old granddaughter her pumpkin for Halloween and she says ‘it’s bigger than Sainsburys!”

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “Congratulations to Doreen, who is a very worthy winner of this year’s Bolton Cup.

“I also hope that seeing Doreen’s work might inspire other people to think about taking up their own plots at the allotments we have across the city.”

Sheffield City Council manages just over 800 green spaces, including 95 parks and recreation grounds and more than 70 allotment sites.

Sheffield, which is cementing its reputation as the UK’s Outdoor City, is also officially the greenest city in the UK, with more than two million trees - four for every person.

Demand for allotment plots remains strong in many areas, however a number of sites do have plots immediately available. Plots of different sizes are available at most sites. For further details on how to get your own allotment plot, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/allotments

A stall will also be held at Sheffield Fayre to promote Sheffield’s allotments service, where people can find out more about what’s involved, where plots are available and also apply.

In association with the National Fairground Archive, Sheffield Fayre features a horticultural show, birds of prey displays, a fairground exhibition and model show, rides, the Ken Fox Wall of Death, music, dance, the Insect Circus museum and much more fun for all the family.

The event runs from 10.30am to 5.30pm on both days.

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