2003 Carved Pumpkin Display
Choosing a Charity
I picked the North Devon Hospice because in April 2000 my mother sadly died from Malignant Melanoma (skin cancer) and the hospice gave huge support not only to her but to the whole of my family throughout her illness and continued to support my family after she had died. I think that most people in Devon if not been involved with the hospice themselves or with family know someone who has.
Not having done anything like this before I was unsure how to proceed. My first thought was to a venue and I came up with my next door neighbours garden, it is fairly large with lots of nooks to display the pumpkins so was ideal. Colin Moon said yes, so the next step was publicity. I came up with the challenge of carving 100 different designs and the North Devon Journal thought this was newsworthy and covered my story for the whole of October.
Finding 100 Pumpkins
Finding someone with a spare 100 pumpkins in their back garden was not an easy task but a local supermarket put me in touch with David Hartnol of Broadlands Farm, Braunton. He was slightly bemused at what I was trying to do but after showing him some photos of last years pumpkins he agreed not only to donate the pumpkins for free but let me pick the shape and sizes I needed straight from his field so armed with a convoy of helpers we traipsed around his fields picking 150 pumpkins (to allow for mistakes!)
Sponsor A Pumpkin
To get some money together to pay for the display as I wanted it to all be free and to give all the children a goody bag I need to raise some funds so came up with the idea of “sponsor A Pumpkin”, local businesses and community members sponsored a pumpkin which was extremely brave of them as they had no idea what I was doing or what they was sponsoring. I raised £300 which all went towards the charity total as the rest of the display needs were also donated.
The Carvers and Designs
Getting 100 pumpkin was great but now I needed to get them carved, thankfully Harry Riley, Jo Sibbald, Jacqui Walker and Sally Brown all offered to help me giving me 48 hours of their lives …mad lot ! Pumpkins look best when freshly carved so we had only 48 hours to complete the challenge and create a display. They all worked like mad and Harry especially who carved right up to 4pm on the day of the display. But the results were amazing, we had traditional Halloween figures and scenes to cartoon characters and I knew someone might count them so yes we did manage 100!
Setting the Scene
Inside a downstairs room my brother Simon created a grotto with camouflage netting and twinkling lights, it was really spooky with bats and spiders hanging from the ceiling. Doris Riley and Kath Maling were going to give everyone hot chocolate and homemade pumpkin pie. Audrey Pingram had made pumpkin Jam and chutney and some apple cake to sell ,so the inside was ready. Outside the pumpkins were placed around the garden and at 5pm Simon and my husband Steve dashed around lighting them up.
5.30 Halloween night.
It was drizzling and I had no idea if anyone would turn up to something so bizarre but I need not have been worried, outside the gate was a queue of dressed up children and adults waiting to come in. As the children came in they all got a glowstick to light the way and as they piled through the gateway greeted by Dracula (thanks Adam) they made their way around the garden to find Cruella (me) and have a hot chocolate to get them warm. Three and a half hours, 500 people and lots of compliments later it was all over, we felt exhausted but thrilled it had been such a success but little did I know how much of a success.
The final total.
Bearing in mind the display was free entry, the drink and pie was free and also all the children had a goody bag of sweets and cakes for free, the only thing we sold was the jam, chutney and apple cake the grand total from the sponsor a pumpkin, donations and proceeds from the produce was an amazing £761.
As I sat down that evening with orange hands and blistered fingers I said “never again!” .That was to prove untrue.