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‘Orton flowerlady’ leaves ‘beautiful’ legacy

Knapweed in an Orton road verge, photographed by Judy Dunford on 13 July 2010
Knapweed in an Orton road verge, photographed by Judy Dunford on 13 July 2010
The late Judy Dunford
The late Judy Dunford
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) in an Orton road verge, photographed by Judy Dunford
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) in an Orton road verge, photographed by Judy Dunford

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Bainbridge, 11 May, 2018

For years she could be seen crouching by the roadsides in and around the Cumbrian village of Orton.

By the time she died in 2015, long-time resident Judy Dunford – known locally as the ‘flowerlady’ – had amassed tens of thousands of close-up photographs of the wildflowers growing in the verges.

Her widower, Paul, has handed the collection to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.  During the coming weeks, a selection of the photos will be exhibited in Shap, Orton, Hawes and Bainbridge (see below for details).

It’s hoped the photos will inspire people to take a fresh look at the National Park’s roadside verges, and become ‘verge ambassadors’.

Paul Dunford said: “Judy was an enthusiastic photographer and in 2001, prevented by the foot and mouth disease outbreak from getting into the fields and meadows to photograph wildflowers, she set out to record all that she could find in the verges.

“By the end of that season she had recorded, identified and verified more than 190 species. At the time of her death from cancer that total was 276. She had become a vigorous campaigner for the conservation of the unusually-wide and flower-rich verges of Orton Parish.  It would be wonderful to think that Judy’s photos could stimulate interest in the verges.”

The centre-piece of the small, touring exhibition will be a two-by-one metre colour montage of 253 wildflower photographs. There will be a dozen further panels telling Judy’s story – and the story of Orton’s road verges, two of which are Sites of Special Scientific Interest currently in an ‘unfavourable’ condition.

The dates and locations for the touring exhibition are:

  • May – 5 June   Shap Old Courthouse   (A ‘Green Verges’ art workshop with Deborah Windsor will be held on Saturday 26 May.  A plant and flower photography workshop with Paul Neaves will be held on Saturday 2 June.  See www.theoldcourthouse.org for details)
  • 20 June  Orton Market Hall, an open exhibition from 1pm with an opportunity to find out more about the project, followed by a talk by YDNPA Wildlife Conservation Officer Sue Thurley at 7pm
  • 26 May – 4 June    Orton Church mini-exhibition
  • 28 June – 10 July    Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes
  • 3 July – 29 August   Yoredale (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority offices), Bainbridge

YDNPA Wildlife Conservation Officer, Sue Thurley, said:  “Judy’s photos show her passion for wildflowers and brilliantly demonstrate the diversity of plants to be found in the road verges.  I think people will come to the mini-exhibition and go, ‘Wow – isn’t that beautiful?’  

“We’d like people to be inspired by the exhibition.  It would be great if a few local people might be interested in becoming ‘verge ambassadors’, volunteering to help keep a record of key indicator species in the Orton road verges.  This would help us review the existing road verges management plan, which is now ten years old.  It will be impossible to carry on the good work Judy started without people coming forward.”

There will be a sign-up sheet at each of the exhibition venues for people wishing to express an interest in becoming ‘verge ambassadors’.

Follow The Orton Road Verges Project as it progresses by visiting www.natureinthedales.org.uk

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