First-ever scarecrow competition in Sidmouth is inspired by four-year-old autistic girl

A four-year-old girl with autism is the inspiration behind Sidmouth holding its first ever scarecrow competition in July.

Mum Amy Roles brought the idea of a competition to Sidmouth, Newton Poppleford and Sidford, thanks to her daughter’s enjoyment of seeing scarecrows on display in Beer when she drove the youngster to nursery.

Amy, 37, who lives near The Byes, in Sidmouth, is already looking ahead to next year’s event – she is determined Sidmouth wins the world record for scarecrows, taking the title from Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Married mum-of-two Amy, 37, organised this year’s free-to-enter event to bring the community together after the coronavirus lockdown.

She floated the idea of a scarecrow competition after remembering how the Beer display brought a smile to the face of her autistic daughter, Jessica, when she dropped her off at nursery in the village.

Amy said: “She can’t talk very well but when she sees them, she points at them and says ‘what’s that?’ and she says ‘it’s funny’.

“If she’s upset it calms her down a little bit and stops her in her tracks.

“It’s something different. They are quite fun. She doesn’t really know what they are but she just likes them.”

She added: “It will help the local businesses so people want to come to Sidmouth and see the scarecrows.

“I think it will help people that are in isolation. It will give them something to do on their daily walk. It will just make people smile.”


Jessica Roles, aged four, right, is the inspiration behind Sidmouth’s first-ever scarecrow competition.


Next year Amy hopes the town can take the title of most scarecrows from Gatlinburg, in Tennessee, USA, and scoop a world record for Sidmouth, which currently stands at

Previously the world record was held in the UK by Burton-Upon-Trent, with a display of 3,812 scarecrows.

The scarecrow competition is open to residents and businesses in Sidmouth, Sidford and Newton Poppleford.

There are two themes – the seaside or the movies – and three categories to enter, general public, businesses and community – to include care homes and organisations.

The competition will run from Friday, July 17 with judging taking place virtually on Friday, July 24.

All entrants are asked to upload a photo of their scarecrow to the event Facebook page.

Entry is free and there are prizes up for grabs for winning scarecrows, taking first, second and third places, in the category for residents. Prizes have been sponsored by Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce.

There will be a trophy each for the winners of the community and business categories.

Waitrose has donated £25 prizes for each winner, said Amy.

Scarecrows can also be displayed without entering the competition.

For more information on how to enter the Sidmouth scarecrow competition, see the Sidmouth Scarecrow Competition Facebook page here.

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