More than 400 guests gathered at Hereford Cathedral on 9th May 2013 in a dual celebration of the unique role of orchards and the contribution that people with learning disabilities make to the richness of life in Herefordshire.

A Service celebrating orchards was organised by the Bulmer Foundation and highlighted the work undertaken by the charity’s Orchard Art project.  Into its 3rd year, the project has enabled children and adults with learning disabilities to visit orchards and create artworks inspired by their surroundings.  

The Cathedral  Celebration featured a selection of orchard-centric paintings, sculptures, songs, poems and plays produced and performed by groups that participated in the Orchard Art project against the backdrop of an orchard of thirty apple trees in full blossom.

Juliet Stroucken, who leads one of the groups which took part, observed, “The confidence, joy and sheer delight shown by each and every performer was inspiring. Our students have absolutely loved being involved in this project, and they had a brilliant day.” The performances included a short play created and performed by the Contact course at Hereford College of Arts about the value of orchards.  The play wonderfully interprets the words of Ralph Austem a 17th Century Oxford man who was passionate about orchards. Please click here to view this play.

The Cathedral was filled by a congregation of families, friends, orchard owners and enthusiasts, senior managers from Bulmers and its parent company HEINEKEN, and members of both the Bulmer and Heineken families. The guest of honour was Mrs de Carvalho-Heineken.

Core funded by HEINEKEN, the Bulmer Foundation is a charity that supports sustainable development, primarily within Herefordshire.  In addition to Orchard Art, the Bulmer Foundation works in partnership to deliver a range of other projects addressing health, food, education and land use issues in Herefordshire. 

Stefan Orlowski, UK Managing Director for HEINEKEN, said, “This remarkable Orchard Service showed that our contributions are being put to considerably good use.  It also demonstrated the significance of orchards to Herefordshire and the people who live there. Not only do they support the rural economy through long term contracts, they are also places of artistic inspiration and provide a natural haven for wildlife.”