A NEW army of volunteers rolled up their collective sleeves last weekend to keep Peebles looking bonnie.

And now they are looking forward to seeing the fruits of their labour flourish in spring.

When Scottish Borders Council announced it would be pruning back on seasonal planting displays, members of the town’s community council and voluntary group Bonnie Peebles said they were “horrified”.

With a number of floral displays already maintained by Bonnie Peebles, the group did not have the manpower to take on additional flowerbeds in the community.

And there was also the question of raising the estimated £10,000 needed annually to run the ambitious floral project.

However, this didn’t prove to be a thorn in the sides of those determined to keeping the town blooming with colour.

Local businesses, both large and small, were asked to dig deep and provide funds.

Chairman of the community council Les Turnbull, told the Peeblesshire News: “The response from businesses has been magnificent. We need at least £10,000 per year for this project and we are well on the way to achieving this target.”

And a number of individuals have also set up standing orders to ensure a steady stream of funding. “This is really encouraging”, said Mr Turnbull. “It shows the whole community is behind us.”

The funds were in place but flower power was needed in the form of volunteers to help these community flowerbeds grow.

The message from Bonnie Peebles member John Falla was clear – no help means no flowers.

A number of signs were erected in the threatened flowerbeds which resulted in 60 volunteers signing up to become members of the new group Bonnie Peebles Plus.

Mr Falla told us: “The response to our call for volunteers has been great. I put signs out around the town and have been inundated with phone calls. It shows how concerned people were and that they want to do something about it”.

Bonnie Peebles Plus held their first meeting for volunteers at the School Brae Hub last Thursday, where they were joined by original members of Bonnie Peebles who were on hand to offer advice and support.

The new green-fingered recruits were divided into teams and discussion took place as to how the new community project would operate.

Avril Murray, Bonnie Peebles coordinator, then gave a presentation about the work of Bonnie Peebles, demonstrating how successful they had been over the past 13 years.

Mr Turnbull said: “Bonnie Peebles has done a great job and will continue to do so as they have over the years. Bonnie Peebles Plus is a new group, working a little differently but we all have the same objectives, to keep Peebles a beautiful place to live and work.

“Our approach is different but residents should be assured that we are working very closely with Bonnie Peebles, not in competition but collaboratively.

"We are there to help them as they are for us. The success of our first meeting provides that reassurance. This is an exciting time for the town – if the funding is available we have thoughts as to how we can build on what we currently have. But our success does rely on maintaining a successful funding stream.”

The army of volunteers set out last weekend, clearing out old bedding and planting new for next spring.

Mr Falla added: “This is exciting. To see how much progress we have made over the past few weeks is amazing. Most of the flower beds we have taken on have now been planted up with winter bedding. I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labours in the spring.”