Hedge laying champion

A champion hedge layer has scored a century after he won his 106th hedge laying competition.

Newly laid hedge

Newly laid hedge

At 68, Geoff Sumner is one of Leicestershire’s most skilled hedge layers with a career spanning 52 years. Geoff has lain between 30 to 40 miles of hedge across Leicestershire as well as Rutland, competing in various competitions from local to national level and was proclaimed England’s junior champion hedge layer at the age of 25.

His hedge laying skills have been put to particularly good use at Manor Farm in Owston, where the hedgerows form an important part of the farm’s Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England.

Martin Banham, Natural England Land Management & Landscape Adviser, commented: “Hedges are traditionally designed to act as a barrier for stock, however, the hedges that Geoff has lain in the mainly arable Manor Farm have become ideal nesting habitats for a host of hedgerow birds including yellowhammer, whitethroat and chaffinch, whilst the branches act as defence barriers to protect nests from predators. I’m glad we can contribute to craftsmen like Geoff to pass on their skills to the next generation.”

Geoff, who will be retiring later this year, said: “Hedge laying has always been a great passion of mine; it began as a hobby and quickly became a trade. Winning 1st prizes in 100 competitions at the age of 65 has been a highlight of my career. I am very pleased to be ending it on a high note through winning my 106th competition.”

Geoff has trained a number of new recruits through hedge laying courses and works as a judge at various hedge laying competitions.

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