Friday, 23 July 2021

Town narrowly misses gold in Entente Florale

HENLEY fell just short of winning gold in a European horticultural competition.

HENLEY fell just short of winning gold in a European horticultural competition.

The town was just over one percentage point short of the 85 per cent required for gold in Entente Florale Europe and instead had to settle for silver.

Henley was representing the UK in the competition when the results were announced at a gala ceremony in Bristol on Friday.

Six of the 10 European towns competing took gold with the other four being awarded silver.

Town councillor Kellie Hinton, vice-chairwoman of Henley in Bloom, who attended the event, said: “We were really happy with 83.67 per cent but when we found out how close that was to gold it was gutting.”

The town was entered for the competition by the Royal Horticultural Society having been a finalist in the national Britain in Bloom competition for the last two years.

A group of 12 judges visited in July and assessed the use of plants, parks and other outdoor spaces, educational and communication initiatives and ecologically sensitive development.

Councillor Hinton, who led the judges on a six-hour tour, said: “Some of the verbal feedback we have had included having more on the planning process with South Oxfordshire District Council.

“We also found out the judges wanted to be introduced to everyone involved together at the start of the tour rather than meeting people throughout the tour as we did it.

“It was a good process to be involved in but it was a lot more stressful than I expected. It’s hard work as you’re representing your country.

“We didn’t start preparing for the competition until January whereas with regional and national In Bloom competitions we start straight after we have finished for the previous year.

“I think if we had a few more months’ notice it would have been better. We thank everyone who helped us. It’s an honour to represent the UK and the town should be proud of this award.”

Cllr Hinton attended the awards dinner with fellow Henley in Bloom members David Eggleton and Mayor Lorraine Hillier. Cllr Hillier said: “Silver is fantastic but when we were so close to gold it was disappointing.

“We still don’t know the full story as we are waiting for our feedback report.

“The town did not let us down. People put a lot of effort into it.

The trio visited an Entente Florale market in Millennium Square, Bristol, where they sold items from the shop at the Henley Information Centre and the River and Rowing Museum.

They also gave out copies of the Visit Henley guide, which is published by Higgs Group, publisher of the Henley Standard.

Cllr Hinton said many of the European entrants at the market were interested in Henley, in particular the filming of Midsomer Murders in the area.

She added: “I think the tourism we will get back will be more than worth it.”

Cllr Hillier said: “Our stand looked fantastic and we were told it was the best stand they’ve ever had from the UK. It was great to be ambassadors for Henley.”

Last week, Henley won a gold award in the Thames and Chiltern in Bloom awards for the fourth consecutive year and won the the best town category.

Now Henley in Bloom awaits the result of the Britain in Bloom awards, which will be announced at a ceremony in Sunderland on October 16.

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