Berwick strikes gold at last with a blooming brilliant all-round effort
After 11 years of efforts from the Berwick in Bloom group, the town won gold at the Northumbria in Bloom awards ceremony held in Gateshead.
It is a fantastic achievement for a small band of volunteers whicn includes representatives from community groups and the town and county council.
Chairman Bernard Shaw said: “It was truly a team effort and the number of excellent ‘special’ awards contributed to a successful whole.”
The visits from the Northumbria in Bloom judges happens twice a year in March and July and follow an agreed route through the town. There may be two or three judges working to a common format.
To supplement what can be shown in two hours a portfolio is produced outlining additional information. The judges look for evidence of horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.
The chief judge reported: ‘The impact of the work of Berwick in Bloom on the town and its linked settlements is immediately obvious to visitor and resident alike. Its floral displays are welcoming, well-conceived-ordinated and properly maintained.
‘From its river frontages, nature rich walks, outstanding parks, superb allotments and intimate streets, all combine to reinforce the sense of history and heritage found in this unique border town.’
In addition to judging planters, hanging baskets and communal flower beds along the prescribed route that the judges follow, the town is also able to enter ‘specials’ in various categories.
Like the main competition these specials are allocated marks against an agreed scheme and are awarded certificates from bronze to gold depending on the number of points achieved.
Then the entry with the highest number of marks in each section across the whole of Northumbria, which is an area extending from Berwick in the north to its border with Yorkshire, is awarded best in class. This distinction goes to Berwick Bowling Club within the sports venue section and Ord House Country Park within the parks’ group. A remarkable achievement for a small town.
Other gold awards went to Castle Vale Park, Spittal village in the residential communities’ section and the Lion House Allotments and Tweedmouth West School.
The railway station complex only achieved a silver gilt this year despite, the judges saying, ‘the planted embankment leading down to the station is to be commended with its subtle colour scheme and variety of species. However, ‘the poorly maintained railway fence suggests lack of care by the railway company of an area solely within its jurisdiction.’
The town’s entry this year was enhanced by a visit to North Star Centre Sensory Garden which has transformed a previously dull courtyard into an inspirational, well landscaped and most useful facility which can be enjoyed by clients and visitors alike.
As part of Berwick in Bloom’s endeavours to recognise the efforts of local establishments to improve the appearance of their buildings in the town, the group again ran a town floral competition placing entrants within six categories. The winners of the café/restaurant being The Granary YHA, the care home unit was Albury House, the pubs and hotels category was the Leaping Salmon. The accommodation providers had joint winners, The Queen’s Head Hotel and the Quay Walls Guest House while the business section award went to The Haven Berwick and the shops to Castlegate Interiors.
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Berwick in Bloom was pleased that the winners were presented with their certificates in the Town Hall by the Mayor who also accompanied the group to the Northumbria in Bloom Awards. The group is delighted to have his support and that of the civic party.
Mo Watkin from Spittal said: “Achieving a Gold Award once is fantastic but to repeat the honour next year the town will have to work hard to maintain and better this standard.
“Help is required. Can you clear your frontage, put out a planter or basket or offer help to the ‘In Bloom Group on an occasional basis? Please contact a member of the group on 01289 308005.”
Dozens of towns, villages and businesses showed off their floral displays, summer planting and well tended parks and gardens in the competition which has seen communities, town and parish councils and county council staff pull together to show off local neighbourhoods at their best.
The county did exceptionally well, scooping 25 awards, including most improved entry, best large village, best town and best park.
Morpeth was declared overall winner in the towns category, with judge’s commenting: “Attention to design, appropriateness of planting, biodiversity, community involvement, public art, education and heritage is amply demonstrated in the streets and parks.”
Also in this category Alnwick and Berwick received gold awards, Bedlington a silver and Hexham a silver gilt.
Holywell Village was declared most improved entry, while Holywell won a silver gilt in this category, New Hartley a silver and Seghill a bronze.
In the small towns category, Corbridge and Ponteland won gold awards while Seaton Delaval got a bronze. Seaton Sluice also scooped a silver gilt in the coastal resort category.
Swansfield Park Primary School received a gold in the schools category, while the River Wansbeck got a gold in the best conservation category.
Alnmouth scooped a gold for best railway station and Tanners Row in Hexham got a gold for best residential community.
Coun Glen Sanderson, county council cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “These parks and public spaces look and feel wonderful places because of the time and effort that goes into tending and caring for them.
“Our staff and all the volunteers who give their time have done a magnificent job and that is reflected in these awards.
“I am very grateful to everyone involved for everything they do in making these places that everyone can enjoy and feel proud of.”