RCF support celebrated at the 2023 National Hedgelaying Championships 

October 30, 2023

On 28th October, over 100 hedge layers from across the UK descended on a field in Leicestershire, to take part in the 44th National Hedgelaying Championships, hosted by The National Hedgelaying Society.

The National Hedgelaying Society is one of over 500 rural community-led projects The Royal Countryside Fund has invested in since 2010. As a charity, The Royal Countryside Fund seeks to help those who live and work in rural communities across the UK to achieve their own solutions to the issues they face. The RCF awarded £20,000 to The National Hedgelaying Society in 2019 to support training more people in this incredible heritage craft. The project has since engaged new people in learning about the value of traditional boundaries, many of whom are committed to developing and sharing their skills for the benefit of their rural communities. 

At the championships event organised by the National Hedgelaying Society, the only national charity dedicated to hedgelaying, there were 14 individual classes demonstrating the very best of different regional styles to the visiting public. Each class was judged, with a winner declared in each match.  

Peter Gibson from Kendal was eventually crowned as overall Champion after winning the Lancs and Westmorland Open Class. Reserve Champion was Jonathan Stafford. After receiving his award, Peter said: “It feels absolutely amazing, I didn’t think I could ever do it again.”  

Mike Hartnell, Vice Chair of the National Hedgelaying Society explains: “This year, recipients of funding from both the Rural Skills Hub and the Royal Countryside Fund have taken part in the competition. The Society is receiving more and more requests for training, which is great for the future of hedgelaying as more young people see it as a viable career choice”.  

The Royal Countryside Fund and Rural Skills Hub Match was won by Josie Muncaster. Josie said: “Over the last year, Rural Skills Hub funding has helped me work alongside others to learn how to lay a hedge and I really hope to get into more competitions in the future.” 

Also taking part this year was James Arthur, who was a recipient of the Royal Countryside Fund. James said: “I’m serving in the Forces at present, but the funding has enabled me to gain a hedgelaying accreditation, which I’m hoping to use as a career option after I leave the army”.  

With so many impacts facing our valuable wildlife habitats, if this year’s competition goes to prove anything, here is a group of people, supported by the National Hedgelaying Society, who are determined that hedgerows are managed, maintained and rejuvenated for the future.  

For more information on the work of the National Hedgelaying Society visit www.hedgelaying.org.uk