Harrogate has scooped Gold in the Small City category at the 50th Britain in Bloom UK Final awards, Europe’s biggest community gardening campaign now run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
RHS Ambassador Adam Frost, who has won six Gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and started his career in a local authority parks department, hosted the annual ceremony, which was held on Thursday 16 October at the Bristol Marriott City Centre and attended by almost 400 community gardening champions.
There are more than 3,900 Bloom groups throughout Britain. Of these, just 71 finalists were chosen to represent their Region or Nation in the UK Finals. Harrogate was chosen to represent Yorkshire.
In August the RHS Britain in Bloom judging panel visited Harrogate and were taken on a tour where they saw the hard work and dedication of Harrogate Borough Council’s Parks and Environmental Services staff, the Harrogate in Bloom group and volunteers from across a wide range of organisations. Local projects which were visited were assessed against three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
Commenting on Harrogate in Bloom’s efforts, RHS Judges said: Harrogate had worldwide coverage this year with the Tour de France. People flocked in their tens of thousands to enjoy the spectacle of the race and will have left with a sense of what Harrogate has to offer. Tourism is Harrogate’s main industry and this is recognised by the local council and the Bloom committee with the high standard of horticultural features around the town always looking at their best – which ensures that the tourists will keep arriving for years to come.
Councillor Phil Ireland, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Transport & External Affairs said: I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their sterling efforts – this Gold award recognises an outstanding achievement. Over 27,600 daffodils and 37,000 crocuses are planted by Harrogate Borough Council’s Parks team each year, while the Harrogate in Bloom group alone contributed over 1,500 hours to ensure Harrogate looked its best for the judges.
It is very much a joint effort with Harrogate Borough Council and Harrogate in Bloom working very closely with a wide range of groups such as The Friends of Valley Gardens, the Pinewood Conservation Group, schools, businesses, community groups and uniformed organisations. We have the opportunity to work with some very dedicated people who are committed to making Harrogate’s gardens and open spaces the envy of the region.
The arrival of the Tour de France to Harrogate in July meant we had the chance to create some unique themed displays in honour of the event, and the town looked absolutely amazing for residents and visitors across the summer months.”
Pam Grant, President of Harrogate in Bloom couldn’t contain her delight at the floral Oscars’ ceremony: Team Harrogate is delighted to have received a Gold award in the small city category in RHS Britain in Bloom. The Tour de France has allowed the people of Harrogate to demonstrate how well they could organise the ‘Grand Départ’ but also keep the town looking ‘bloomin’ marvellous. This year there has been a lot of community involvement, we have a great band of volunteers, who we work closely with. Well done everyone!
A number of discretionary awards were also given to communities and individuals who demonstrated excellence in a particular area of the campaign. These included awards for young people’s involvement, environmental sustainability and community-wide participation, amongst others.
Harrogate’s Chris Beard received the RHS Britain in Bloom Community Champion award for his exceptional commitment and dedication to the RHS Britain in Bloom cause.
The RHS Britain in Bloom awards are a chance to celebrate the work of dedicated volunteers across the UK, of which there are up to 300,000, and to recognise achievement, innovation and a commitment to keeping our villages, towns and cities clean, green and thriving.
Bloom volunteers collectively invest nearly 11 million hours every year into local Bloom activities, which equates to almost £70 million at the National Minimum Wage. It is hoped that the transformation of community spaces championed at the RHS Britain in Bloom awards ceremony will encourage even more people to get involved and help continue to make a positive difference over the next 50 years.