Friday, 06 August 2021

Fifth gold but town loses regional bloom title

HENLEY won a fifth consecutive gold award in the Thames and Chilterns in Bloom awards

HENLEY won a fifth consecutive gold award in the Thames and Chilterns in Bloom awards.

However, the town lost its title as the best in the region to Amersham, which will now represent the area in Britain in Bloom.

Henley had won the category for the last two years and represented the region nationally but was forced to sit out this year due to the rules of the Royal Horticultural Society competition.

Town councillor Kellie Hinton, chairwoman of Henley in Bloom, said: “We are aiming to get the title back but we are happy for Amersham to have it for one year.

“I’m obviously thrilled to win a gold award at the regional awards again.

“We will support Amersham in the national competition.”

The award was collected by Henley in Bloom committee member and town Mayor Julian Brookes with fellow town councillors Lorraine Hillier and David Eggleton at the awards ceremony held at St Mary’s Church in Amersham on Thursday last week.

Judges Peter Thompson, from Peppard, and Norman Parker, from Stony Stratford, were shown around Henley in July by Councillor Hinton and the town council’s park services manager Gareth Bartle.

Stops on the tour included the celebration beds and the green wall at the Leichlingen Pavilion, both in Mill Meadows, and the conservation work carried out in Marsh Meadows.

The judges also admired the 378 hanging baskets around the town, which were paid for by the council, residents, shops and other businesses with the support of the Henley Standard’s Buy A Basket campaign.

Cllr Hinton said: “We will look at the feedback from the experts and take their comments on board to see what we can do to improve next year.

“I want to go big on tackling air quality in the town, which is something we can work on in partnership with schools.”

Badgemore Primary School, in Hop Gardens, which the judges were shown round by governor and bloom group committee member Tuc Ahmad, was commended in the Mark Mattock Schools’ Challenge.

Schools are judged on criteria such as teaching and learning, school garden, whole school involvement and overall impression.

Cllr Hinton added: “Badgemore is fantastic and really is leading the way in Henley. Hopefully, next year they will win the award.”

Cuxham, which last entered the competition in 2014, won silver gilt this year and the village’s bloom group was awarded the regional award for conservation and wildlife.

Mr Thompson and Mr Bartle, who also serves as a Thames and Chilterns in Bloom judge, said Cuxham had “an extraordinary sense of community” and the importance it placed on conserving and enhancing biodiversity was inspiring.

They commended the village’s relationship with the Environment Agency and the care of the Marlbrook chalk stream, noting the biodiversity enhancements, wildflower planting and the work of conservation groups to make the recreation ground the “ecological hub” of the village.

The Half Moon pub, owned by Vaska Battley, was praised as a valuable local meeting point.

Debbie Proctor, who co-ordinates the group, said: “It is lovely for everyone who put in the time, effort and hard work and for it to be appreciated. That was the feeling from the village in terms of winning silver gilt.”

She thanked Henley Town Council for its support with the village’s entry.

In the It’s Your Neighbourhood community group awards, Gainsborough Residents’ Association in Henley was awarded its third consecutive “thriving” score, the second highest classification.

The estate scored 80 out of 100, just six marks short of a top grade, including 37 out of 40 in the community participation section.

Councillor Eggleton, who is chairman of the association, said: “Outstanding is the top classification but to keep it going and get thriving again is still very good. We are very happy with it.

“I don’t know how much more we could do for community participation as we already work with so many groups.”

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