Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Town awarded sixth bloom gold but misses top prize

Town awarded sixth bloom gold but misses top prize

HENLEY won its sixth consecutive gold award at the Thames and Chilterns in Bloom awards and received a special prize for community involvement.

But the town failed to be voted the best in the region, losing out to Amersham for the second year running.

Badgemore Primary School in Hop Gardens was highly commended in the Mark Mattock Cup for schools.

The awards ceremony took place at St Mary’s Church in Amersham on Thursday last week.

Henley Mayor Kellie Hinton, who chairs Henley in Bloom, received the award with fellow councillors David Eggleton and Lorraine Hillier and Caroline Langler, another member of Henley in Bloom.

She said: “You can’t always win best in category and we are still very proud of our result.

“We have done fantastically well and I’m proud of the work done by town council staff, the Gardening Buddies and members of the bloom committee.

“Businesses and community groups continue to support us and we are working with all the schools, not just Badgemore. All the schools contribute to our effort.”

In July, judges Julie Graham, from Bray, and Peter Goff, from Milton Keynes, were given a two-hour tour of the town by Cllr Hinton and the town council’s park services manager Gareth Bartle.

It began at the Regal Picturehouse cinema in Boroma Way, where a presentation was given on the group’s work this year.

This covered events events sich as the Hit Litter day, the Henley Allotment Association’s plant sale, the Chelsea Fringe Henley alternative gardening festival, the regatta window display competition and the Buy a Basket campaign supported by the Henley Standard.

The judges were shown Bell Street, New Street and Thames Side as well as Greencroft allotments. Then they were taken to Singers Park, off Thames Side, for a short boat ride to view the Henley Royal Regatta course, Henley Bridge, Red Lion Lawn and River Terrace.

They were also shown Mill and Marsh Meadows, including the green wall on Leichlingen Pavilion, the celebration beds, the Rotary garden and the sensory garden, Station Park and a number of other streets.

To finish, they went to Badgemore to see the school’s beehive project, gardening club and vegetables as well as the progress of the school’s orchard.

Mrs Graham said: “Henley in Bloom has become an integral part of the local community to the extent that new developers within the town contact and seek advice on how they can be involved. Residents also write in with ideas and requests.

“The Gardening Buddies play a key role in planting and maintaining beds and borders, with individual members seeking out grot spots for improvement.

“This year’s Bees in Bloom campaign captured the imagination of schools, youth groups and shops.” Cuxham in Bloom won a silver gilt in the small village category for the second year running.

In July, judges Victoria Newton and Peter Thompson, both from Peppard, were given an hour-long tour beginning at the Half Moon pub, where they were shown planting by owner Vaska Battley, and Cuxham wildflower meadow.

Debbie Proctor, who co-ordinates Cuxham in Bloom, said she was pleased the group had improved its overall score.

She said: “It was a delightful surprise to be awarded silver gilt.

“This was our third year of entering and we were able to show the judges progress on conservation projects and also some new areas. To have their experience and feedback is very helpful. It was nice for everyone who helps to score a few extra points for community participation.

“A lot of effort goes into scoring 10 out of 10 for an exceptionally clean and tidy village, free of dog fouling.”

Goring Gap in Bloom won a gold award in the small town category after entering for the first time since 2015.

When the village was judged in July, the tour was followed by a camera crew for a BBC 2 programme on Britain in Bloom to be shown next year. The judges, who included Mr Bartle and Paul Almond, from Oxford, visited Goring Primary School and Withymead nature reserve and were given a boat tour.

Gainsborough Residents’ Group in Henley was awarded its fourth consecutive “thriving” score in the It’s Your Neighbourhood community group awards. This is the second highest classification.

The award was presented to Cllr Eggleton, who is chairman of the association.

The association’s work includes a voluntary street-sweeping rota and organising family events at Makins recreation group, an annual Christmas lunch for the over-60s in partnership with the Soha housing association and a Santa toy run to the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

Cllr Eggleton said: “It’s not about the award, that’s just a bonus. Some of the things the judges asked us to improve on are outside our control.

“We work with people like Soha and the town council. If you have positive relationships with those groups then it makes others want to be involved with you.”

⚫ Thames and Chilterns in Bloom will hold a seminar at Henley town hall on November 2. The horticultural conference is designed to give entrants hints and tips to improve their scores.

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