Monday, 20 September 2021

Gardener for elderly takes top prize at bloom awards

A GARDENER at a sheltered housing complex won the top prize at the Henley in Bloom awards.

A GARDENER at a sheltered housing complex won the top prize at the Henley in Bloom awards.

Martin Curtis, 43, looks after the grounds at Bowling Court, 30 flats and bungalows for the elderly off Fair Mile.

He won the Henley in Bloom Challenge Cup as well as gold awards in the community and “cleaner and greener” categories at the awards ceremony, which took place at Henley town hall on Thursday last week.

Mr Curtis, from Cholsey, attended the ceremony with residents Ida Meijel, June Grindley and Dorothy  Williams.

He said he enjoyed his work, which includes cutting the grass, which takes two-and-a-half days, looking after about 400 fish in the pond and raising plants.

Mr Curtis, who is always accompanied by Crystal, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, said: “We grow about 5,000 plants a year in our greenhouse. We bring them all on and plant them out.

“Some of the residents like certain types of plants in their gardens. Most residents are over 70 and can’t get down on the ground so I help them with their gardens as well. It really is a community.”

Resident Pauline Silver said the gardens were one of the main reasons she wanted to move to Bowling Court when she came to Henley from London.

She said: “I didn’t want to move into a bungalow but that changed once I came through the entrance. I thought I would love to live here. The gardens are always perfect.”

The Elizabeth Hodgkin Community Award was won by Henley in Bloom committee member Caroline Langler.

Town councillor Kellie Hinton, vice-chairwoman of the bloom group, told the 40 people present: “This award is for someone who goes above and beyond, not just helping Henley in Bloom but many other community groups.

“She has been a member for many years, not only organising this competition but bringing forward many projects and contributing all around the town.”

Mrs Langler said: “It was a lovely surprise to be given the award but I don’t feel I deserve to be singled out.

“I feel lucky to be involved with a hard-working, friendly group of people who all aim to improve Henley, not just visually but in all ways that they can.”

Sue Staines was named Gardening Buddy of the year and was presented with the award by Jan Sutton, a fellow member of the volunteer group.

The pub of the year was won by the Saracen’s Head in Greys Road with the Angel on the Bridge in second place.

Mexican restaurant Pachangas, in Duke Street, won the restaurant category with Villa Marina in Thames Side the runner-up.

Both these awards are sponsored by Higgs Group, publisher of the Henley  Standard.

A gold award went to Viv Greenwood and her neighbours in West Street for resident-maintained community gardens.

Mrs Langler accepted the award on their behalf from Shiplake singer Vince Hill.

The winner in the baskets and containers category was Heather Durrant, of Gainsborough Hill, who won gold.

Last year, she won the front gardens category and was running-up in the back gardens category, which wasn’t included this year. Gold was also awarded to Chris and Anne Eggleton, of Gainsborough Cresent, while silver gilt went to Geoffrey Chipp, of Reading Road, and Duncan Birrell, of Gainsborough Hill.

The Eggletons’ daughter-in-law Nicola won the patios category with a gold award.

Gold was also awarded to Leah Gomersall, of Luker Avenue, Bronwen Coussens, of Ancastle Green, and Chris and Anne Eggleton.

Mrs Gomersall won the lawns category with a gold award while silver gilt went to Mr Birrell, Mrs Durrant and Sylvia Silvey and Richard Goodsell, of Vicarage Road. Pauline Miller won silver and Sally Pearce bronze. These categories were sponsored by Southern Plant.

Dave Chilvers, of Henley Allotments Association, presented the allotment awards with Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier.

The best plot awards went to Martin Bidlake-Corser (Waterman’s) and Shelagh Stanbridge-Bennett and her partner David Williams (Greencroft).

Best newcomers were Robert Hudgell (Waterman’s) and John Gibbs (Greencroft).

There was a special community award for the Waterman’s allotments volunteer support group comprising Mick Blackall, Pat Main, David Eggleton, Tony Isaacs, George Bowsher and James Bellew for clearing unused allotments and looking after other plots while people were away or unwell.

The judges were Councillor Simon Smith, chairman of Henley in Bloom, Cllrs Hillier, Hinton and Eggleton and Mrs Langler.

The Mayor said: “It’s very rewarding to see these people receive their certificates. It’s a small thing the council can do to thank them for the fantastic work in maintaining such beautiful gardens.

“We would also thank the council staff who work so hard on this and go to a lot of trouble to put on the awards.”

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