Thursday, 14 December 2017

More than beginner’s luck for bloom champions

A COUPLE won the overall title in this year’s Henley in Bloom awards at the first time of asking.

David and Karen Thatcher, of Gainsborough Crescent, were praised by judges for their “oasis” garden, which features a pond, bridge and colourful floral displays.

Mrs Thatcher, 47, a teaching assistant, said: “It is really nice to win. This is the first time we have entered the awards. We have always just had the garden for ourselves but so many people said ‘why don’t you enter?’ and our neighbours even offered to do it for us.

“We have got everything in our garden — fruit, vegetables, flowers, a pond — you name it, we have done it.”

Engineer Mr Thatcher, 62, said: “I like to bring everything to life in the garden so when you are sitting in different parts you have got a lot going on all the time.

“We grow everything ourselves and take our own cuttings so we don’t go out and buy things. It is good fun and we really enjoy it.”

The couple collected their prize at the Henley in Bloom and Henley Allotments Association awards ceremony at the town hall on Wednesday last week.

Kellie Hinton, who chairs the Henley in Bloom committee, praised the couple’s work.

She said: “A scenic walk around the side of the house took the judges into a garden oasis. A quaint bridge, path and lawn are the skeleton of this garden with flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit everywhere the eye could see. Careful management of the garden is evident and the passion that has gone into it shows at every turn.”

The overall runners-up were Chris and Anne Eggleton, also of Gainsborough Crescent.

The front garden (lawns) winner was Heather Durrant, of Gainsborough Hill, who won silver gilt. The runner-up was Sylvia Silvey, of Vicarage Road, who also won silver gilt.

The front garden (baskets and containers) winner was Nicola Eggleton, of the Gainsborough estate, who won gold. Runners-up were Mr and Mrs Thatcher, of Gainsborough Crescent, and Geoffrey Chipp, of Reading Road, who won gold.

The front garden (patio) winner was Caroline Chisholm, of Ancastle Green, who won gold. Runners-up were Mrs and Mrs Eggleton, and Viv Greenwood, of West Street, who won silver gilt.

The joint back gardens winners were Mr and Mrs Thatcher and Peter Bonnage, of Crisp Road, who were awarded gold. Runners-up were Mrs Chisholm, Mrs Durrant and the Eggletons, who were all awarded gold, Tony and Jill Ward, of Newtown Gardens, Graham Jones, of Gravel Hill, who won silver gilt awards, and Mrs Silvey, who won silver.

This year’s themed category, which was pollinators, was won by Mrs Chisholm.

The pubs category was won by the Three Horseshoes in Reading Road with the Saracen’s Head in Greys Road and the Angel on the Bridge in Thames Side joint runners-up and the Row Barge in West Street fourth. The Victoria in Market Place was highly commended.

The Spice Merchant in River Side won the restaurants category. Villa Marina in Thames Side was runner-up and the Regal Picturehouse cinema in Boroma Way was highly commended.

War Memorial Place won the community gardens category with a silver award. Tomalin & Son in Reading Road and Bowling Court won silver awards and the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road won bronze.

The Gardening Buddy of the year was Joan Edwards, who only joined the group this year.

The new Hodgkin Community Award — named after former Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin, who runs the Gardening Buddies — was Viv Greenwood, of West Street.

Cllr Hinton said Mrs Greenwood was “a whirlwind of a person, the kind that never sits still and is always helping someone”.

She added: “She is the kind of person who keeps Henley going, one of the many engines powering the community.” The community award, which is presented to an allotment holder who goes beyond the call of duty, was won by Graham Jones, of Gravel Hill, for the second year running.

Best allotment was awarded to Mick Blackall, of Crisp Road, (Waterman’s) and Heidi Whitelock, of New Street, (Greencroft).Best newcomer was awarded to Laura Dance, of Reading Road, (Waterman’s) and Tracey White, of Luker Avenue, (Greencroft).

The awards were presented by sponsors and Mayor Martin Akehurst and singer Vince Hill.

The Mayor said: “Henley in Bloom and the Allotments Association are very close to my heart because they make an enormous difference to the town. They get people to focus on the town and to notice what needs doing. A couple of weeks ago I was driving through Suffolk and Cambridge and it became a competition — can you spot the village that’s in Britain in Bloom? It makes an enormous difference and I really am grateful to you all.”

The awards were sponsored by the Henley Standard, Southern Plant and Tool Hire, Hotel du Vin and Toad Hall garden centre.

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