What’s your connection to Ludlow?
I came here 43 years ago. I was passing through and thought what a beautiful place. I simply fell in love with Ludlow. I am a Shropshire Councillor and a Town Councillor for Ludlow South.
Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background?
Years ago I was coming through here, we’d just done the summer season [Ed. Viv was a stage performer travelling around England] in Lladundno and my ex-husband said ‘let’s stop for five minutes’. We stopped by this railway station in Onibury and then went down to Cardiff to do two weeks work down there. We’d never worked for the agent before and he said ‘go back, I’ll give you the deposit to put down and tell them that’s what you want’. We lived in Morecambe at the time. We put the deposit down there and then because it was something we really wanted.
"Like the sitcom, Cheers, everyone knows your name
We were really happy. I was 26 years in Onibury but then my husband left me with two little girls who I’d just adopted so I had to think about something rather quick. I thought, right, I’ll do bed and breakfast and I started to do ice-creams – 23 varieties – lots of apple pies, meat pies and sandwiches outside. I got quite a good reputation really.
And I loved that, really enjoyed it. There again, it’s people motivated all the time, I really like people and I get on with people really well. I like to listen and I don’t always talk which I’m doing a lot of at the moment!
My daughters helped me out in the business but when my youngest daughter reached 18, she decided she wanted to try something different so I sold up and moved into Ludlow, to Temeside where I still live now. I worked in De Greys Tea Room and then at the Co-op on the tills. I loved chatting to people and it was here I was asked to put myself forward as a Councillor. I won my first election but the queue at my till in the Co-op started to get too long with people asking for advice and my employers weren’t too impressed! It was at this point that I became a Councillor full time.
As a councillor what is the most satisfactory thing you have accomplished?
It's not anything I've done, it's the thanks I get. It's when someone sends me a letter saying I have really helped them or when someone just says 'thank you for sorting this out for me'. I lost my second election and it was a big shock to me. It made me realise that I had to work harder and it was an important lesson.
Tell us a little about the 'Ludlow in Bloom' group
I joined 'Ludlow in Bloom' when it began almost 15 years ago. We started with a small committee of people but these days it’s managed by a wonderful team of volunteers. Like Adam Tutt of the Blue Boar, who makes sure the flowers outside his pub are always watered. The Ludlow schools are involved too for example, looking after the car park in the centre of town. All of the local schools contribute to the care and upkeep.
Tell us something about Ludlow that nobody knows
I think the people here make Ludlow something special. The local people themselves, there are some real characters. Some of the families have lived here all their lives and everybody knows them. Do you remember that show on the television in an American bar, Cheers? It’s like that. Everybody knows your name.
When it comes to gardens just outside Ludlow where do you venture to?
We go on quite a few trips with my Access group, which is a disabled group in town. We go to different places, we always like to go to gardens. They’ve got to be accessible, of course, and I wouldn’t want to pick one particular place, they are all so different. I do watch an awful lot of television, like everybody else. They have been doing the Heart of England in Bloom lately so when I’m at home, which isn’t very often, I’ve been watching it with a beady eye. Leominster, they do In Bloom too and they come here and look at what I do and I go there and look at what they do along with Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, they are all always very helpful.
Viv, give us a top tip for the 'summer gardener' (i.e. the one who cheerfully and eagerly runs to the garden centre come spring to buy the pretty flowers but tend to flag come October!)
Once you’ve got your flowers in, water either early morning or evening but if you forget, you must do it during the day. You must not forget to water! Do it at least once a day. Never buy plants that don’t look right, you should always buy good quality stuff. Trust your instincts, you can tell by looking at them if they are any good or not, if they look dead you won't revive them later at home. Just avoid them.
Aside from Ludlow in Bloom, are you involved in any other local garden events?
We have a competition every year for people who have their own gardens and hanging baskets and anything else they want to go in for. That’s on the 17th July and you can still pick up forms at Ludlow Town Council.
If you are interested in getting in touch with Viv to sponsor a plant box, hanging basket or any floral display, please get in touch with Viv through Ludlow Town Council