Blooming celebrations for Newcastle-under-Lyme
Newcastle-under-Lyme has crowned its landmark anniversary year by winning the top Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom award for the whole country.
In the year it celebrates its 850th anniversary, first Newcastle won its category as the best ‘small city’ in the United Kingdom, along with a Gold Award for the quality of its entry – and then claimed the overall prize for best winner.
The winners were announced on BBC’s One Show on Monday 23 October.
The national triumph comes days after Newcastle swept up at the region Heart of England in Bloom awards, winning first place in the small city category, collecting its 21st consecutive gold award and also receiving a judge’s discretionary award for outstanding achievement.
Simon Tagg, Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that we have been judged the best of the best, especially in the year that we celebrate our 850th anniversary.
“It is impossible to win this prizes unless the whole community pulls together: schools, businesses, community groups and volunteers have worked together to make this possible and I am so proud of this shared achievement.”
In the RHS Britain in Bloom ‘small city’ category, Newcastle was competing against Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Derry in Northern Ireland and the Borough of Oadby and Wigston in Leicestershire.
Not only did it win, but the quality of its entry was so high, it received the Gold Award.
It also received a certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Gardening.
As well as winning a gold award 21 times in a row at the regional awards, the Borough took a hat-trick of regional championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In recent years it’s previously won the national ‘small city’ title and a gold award in the Champion of Champions round – but has never before won the overall top prize.
The national inspection took place earlier this summer and as well as seeing traditional set-piece floral displays, judges visited projects undertaken by community groups and volunteers.
Starting at the Brampton, judges toured parts of Bradwell, Knutton, Silverdale, past Keele and then round to south-west Newcastle before returning to the town centre.
Queens Gardens was planted with annual bedding on the theme of the 850th celebrations, and the entry took a sustainable approach by providing herbaceous and perennial planting on town centre roundabouts, including for pollinators, and native tree planting as part of the Urban Tree Planting Strategy.
Considerations for the judges included the extent of community involvement, the restoration of habitats and evidence of good ecological practices and year round activity by volunteers, as well as the range of plant species and work to support wildlife.
This year volunteers have already donated the equivalent of 4,000 hours of work.
Simon Tagg added: “Taking part in the national and regional ‘in Bloom’ awards is so important, not only does it make where we live a smarter, better place, it pulls communities together to make a meaningful contribution to sustainability, recycling and energy conservation.”