The 2012 competition was held on Saturday 25 February 2012 at New Barn Farm, Calbourne by kind permission of Mr Chris Spence.
Lead sponsors in 2012: Landscape Therapy; Isle of Wight Council; W Hurst & Sons Ltd; IW AONB; Hants & IW Wildlife Trust
The competition was held on a fine, mild day, which presented spectacular views north from New Barn Farm over the Solent to the New Forest thoughout the day. The hedge was young, and although it had already been laid once the man who planted it in 1988 visited the site during the day to see how his handiwork was holding up! The fine weather meant that a great number of spectators turned up to enjoy the day, and the lively atmosphere and warm temperatures meant that this was a very enjoyable day.
Nineteen pitches were cut by a total of thirty-five competitors, plus a demonstration plot cut by former supreme national champion Peter Tunks, who drew attention with his usual impressive annual display of craftsmanship. There were some familiar faces amongst the competitors and also some new ones. Three mainland entrants had crossed the water to join in the Novice class, more than ever before. There was also the welcome return of Paul Sivell, who has been involved in the competition for many years, including a stint as a judge. Paul entered the Open class for the first time in some years. Also in the Open was another competition veteran, Alex Holmes, who was last year's Novice champion and this year moved up to the Open for the first time. Former champion Rob Richards was taking a break from the competition, but turned up to support the competitors. With seven team entrants there was strong competition in the Team class, even though the Isle of Wight College only entered two teams this year.
The judges commented that the entrants were of good standard, and particularly in the Novice class they marked it very closely, with only five points separating the champion from 7th place. For the first time a class was won by a mainland competitor, with Hampshire man Hans E. Taylor winning the Mary Sitch Novice Cup. The top places in the team class were also keenly fought, with the Isle of Wight Green Gym taking third place only a single point behind the 'Bouldnor Boys', a duo led by former Novice champion Richard Temple. Winners in the Team class were father and son team, 'Big Cook, Little Cook'. James and Josh Cook.
With Rob Richards absent from the Open class and Paul Sivell returning, it was hard to predict the results. As it turned out, last year's champion successfully defended his title, and Tom Murphy lifted the AONB Trophy again, with Oz Hoskyns once more coming a close second. Former Novice champion Alex Holmes placed a very credible fourth, just behind Paul Sivell who took a comfortable third place.
Click here to see 2012 overall results table (PDF)
Winner of the W Hurst & Sons cup for the best hedge laid with hand tools:
The Peter Tunks £20 note trophy
A trophy was presented again on the day by former supreme national champion Peter Tunks, who awarded a £20 note for the straightest stakes and binding. The winners were The Bouldnor Boys (Richard Temple & Gareth Shelley).
The judges' special award for the best laid poor stretch of hedge went to Tom Murphy.