Dismay at Manor Farm Roundabout vandalism

Photo of a group of people celebrating the return of 'Debbie the heifer' and 'Peppa the pig' to Manor Farm Roundabout.

An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.

Well, what a month! We have done some work in places other than the Manor Farm Roundabout. Not much, but some. We did some overtime and have given the community herb garden a replant. These are the large wooden planters outside Brook Way Activity Centre. Just for fun, we’ve added a few vegetables to one, for some colour. We have beetroot, chard and lettuce, and for the children, strawberries. For those with more sophisticated palates, you can choose anything from the spicy curry plants and wild garlic, to borage, fennel and rosemary. Or maybe parsley, basil, chives or thyme are more to your taste. Whichever you prefer you are welcome to come and snip off any that you fancy.

In another bit of overtime, we have managed to repair the bench at The Common East and on one sunny Sunday morning it was also repainted. Apart from the non-stop birdsong, it was amazingly quiet, until I found a dog to fuss and someone to talk to that is. Our new decoy ducks are still nameless, but Wheatfield School is intending to rectify that soon and will be running a competition to choose their new names, which we’re looking forward to. We might even be able to come up with a prize for the lucky winner. Usually in the spring we remove the decoy ducks so as not to upset the drake, but as we’ve not had a breeding pair take up residence this year, we have left them where they are. This pond no longer has any fish, but it does have some very large tadpoles. I suspect they are thriving as, apart from a dragon fly larvae or two, they have no predators here.

We have, in agreement with SGC, been keeping an eye on their Brook Way wild flower strips, and gave our new recruit Kelly the task of pulling out the oilseed rape plants. This may not have been a good idea, as I think some of them were almost as tall as she is! We also discovered that the thistles I often admired were in fact not thistles but something else (not that I know what – it took me long enough to remember ‘brown side down, green side up’!). But I did remember the three birthdays we have this month in the group, Pepi, Jenny and Stevie. They couldn’t all make it this month so we had plenty of cake to work off in the afternoon.#

And then there was the Manor Farm Roundabout… We were so disappointed when we learned that Debbie the toy heifer, along with her new piggy friend Peppa, were gone. However, we received the bad news within just a few minutes of their disappearance, followed by photographs of the ‘cattle rustlers’ and reports of where they had been that evening.

In the morning, I’m not sure which woke them first, the loud thumping in their heads or the even louder clamouring on social media of a community outraged at the theft of ‘their Debbie’ and her companion Peppa. A few hours later, Debbie and Peppa’s unwanted adventure came to an end, when they were returned to the roundabout by an apologetic pair of adults. The pig had suffered some damage (her leg was left behind in the raid), and although we repaired her as best we could, she still had a hole in her rump, which we covered with black tape. This looked a bit odd, so we decided to change her breed from a large white to a Gloucestershire Old Spot!

We returned them both to the roundabout and Debbie is now more securely attached to the gate. The experience taught me two things… ONE: I hadn’t realised until then how popular Debbie was. I know I smiled whenever I went past, but I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just me! And TWO: Bradley Stoke has a real community spirit, which cannot be broken by a single thoughtless act.

The company Cow & Gate heard the story and have sent us a couple of little toy cows. They are much too small to go out yet, so we’re going to wait until they’ve grown a bit.

Sadly, on the evening of Saturday 18th May, the pig was again the target of vandals, and this time she was broken beyond repair. It seemed to be a busy night for vandals; two boys were seen destroying a bike outside the Brook Way Activity Centre; later on, glass bottles were heard being smashed at the Jubilee Centre play park and a wooden seat and bird boxes were also destroyed down by the Three Brooks lake. All the incidents have been reported to the police and it appears they are already investigating. I may have been called a ‘poor trusting fool’ for leaving Debbie on a roundabout, and maybe I am, but I’m also someone who now knows that she lives in a town that cares.

Photo of the smashed 'Peppa the pig' toy.

Photos: 1 BSiB volunteers and friends welcome Debbie and Peppa back to Manor Farm. 2 Vandals struck again a week later, damaging Peppa beyond repair.

How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 6 & 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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