Growing for gold – town takes top prize at Britain in Bloom awards

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Britain in Bloom
Graham Flexman (left) and Mark Jeffries collect New Milton’s certificate from Baroness Floella Benjamin

TEAMWORK was praised for sowing the seeds of success when colourful flower displays saw New Milton reap a top accolade at the Britain in Bloom awards.

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Having already claimed the silver gilt three consecutive times in the regional South and South East in Bloom Awards, the town council was thrilled to take home the gold from its first entry into the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) prestigious national contest.

Town clerk Graham Flexman and the council’s estates and facilities manager Mark Jeffries collected the certificate from Baroness Floella Benjamin in a ceremony at RHS Lindley Hall in London.

New Milton had triumphed in the business improvement districts, town centres and city centres category.

The Britain in Bloom judges who visited in the summer commended the town for its enthusiastic residents, excellent standards of cleanliness and impressive floral displays. They also described experiencing a “significant sense of the feel-good factor”.

Britain in Bloom
Mark Jeffries was among the team who supervised a planting by New Milton Junior School pupils

Mr Jeffries said: “I am so proud and privileged to have been a part of New Milton In Bloom, and this is such an amazing result for New Milton and its residents.

“This really has been an incredible team effort and I cannot thank enough the New Milton team, New Milton Residents’ Association, New Milton & District Community Association, New Milton Sands WI, Barton Bees WI, Arnewood School, New Milton Junior and Infant schools, Forest Arts centre, our traders and so many others.

“The support and hard work you have given to In Bloom has been nothing short of incredible.”

As reported in the A&T, the schools and community groups helped town council workers create various colourful displays of blooms across the area. These included four-tiered planters and flower troughs along the length of Station Road.

‘A big thank you to everyone involved’

Displays have also greeted passengers at the railway station, as well as motorists entering the town.

One of the schemes involving local youngsters saw members of a New Milton Junior School gardening club help plant a special display in the raised bed on Chaucombe Green alongside the A337 Christchurch Road.

This display incorporated elements from a number of designs the youngsters had worked on, including a sun made from sunflowers, a heart shape and the school’s initials.

The judging panel said: “The tour was most enjoyable and the many people the judges met were enthusiastic about the town, its heritage and the impact the In Bloom group was having on the environment, with many townspeople stopping the judging party to make this point.

“The historical background to the town was most interesting and enabled the judges to contextualise the present in relation to the past.”

‘This is an outstanding achievement’

Mr Flexman said: “I felt the town deserved gold, which somewhat bucked the trend as we did better nationally than regionally, but the RHS judges knew what they were looking for and found it in New Milton when comparing town centres nationally.

“The wildflower areas in particular proved popular. A big thank-you to everyone involved in helping us achieve gold nationally this year.”

The triumph was also welcomed by Cllr Geoffrey Blunden, the town council’s amenities committee chairman who has been a strong advocate of the scheme.

“I was so pleased that the hard work and dedication of New Milton Town Council’s grounds maintenance teams, working in partnership with our community groups, has been recognised by being awarded the Britain in Bloom gold,” he told the A&T.

“I’m sure we all agree that this is an outstanding achievement, and what a pleasure it is to see our town looking so beautiful over the summer. Well done and a big thank you to everyone.”

For more information about the RHS Britain in Bloom competition visit www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/britain-in-bloom.

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