AROUND £5,000 is spent on plants in Shaftesbury every year, and now a group of volunteers have reached out to the community to help cover donations halted by Covid-19.

Each year Shaftesbury in Bloom decorates the town with boxes, troughs, planters and barrels of flowers, but because of the recent virus outbreak local businesses are unable to provide their usual financial support.

With lockdown causing businesses to either temporarily or permanently close with staff furloughed, Shaftesbury in Bloom members decided to continue planting to prepare the High Street for its reopening, but have now appealed to residents for donations instead.

The group has launched a fundraiser with hopes to reach around £1,000, which will help covers costs of plants, equipment and installation.

James Thrift of Shaftesbury in Bloom, who launched the crowdfunding page, said: “Every year Shaftesbury in Bloom puts lots of window boxes and barrels of plants through the town. The number of volunteers has dwindled over time and we wanted to do something to boost numbers back up, but then we came to this year.

“We thought we may have to reduce our work [because of Covid-19] but, if anything, we wanted to increase everything we could do for the town. We want to make it more colourful, bright and inviting.”

James added: “We are acutely aware of businesses that are suffering, and people said they would quite happily give some money so we set up the appeal. We thought £1,000 would be a realistic target.”

The crowdfunding page went live Saturday evening, and has already raised around £200.

According to the group, at present 100 plant features have been delivered and installed.

On the fundraising page the group said: “Any donation, large or small, will be hugely appreciated, and will help ensure Shaftesbury emerges from this pandemic as healthy and vibrant as possible.

“All donations will be publicly acknowledged, if you so wish you can sponsor one of the window boxes or barrels, where we will attach a sponsorship label with your or your business’s name.”

James added: “The more we can raise the more we can do for the town, meaning more plants and towers that everyone likes. It’s a happy restart for Shaftesbury, we don’t want the town to look abandoned.

“It is hard work but it’s worth it to make the town look good, and we know it’s appreciated.”

For more information and to donate visit the Shaftesbury in Bloom crowdfunding page.