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East Midlands in Bloom Awards 2013

PUBLISHED: 14:20 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 10:42 18 December 2013

Belper River Gardens

Belper River Gardens

Ashley Franklin and various unnamed photographers

Ashley Franklin reports on Derbyshire’s triumph at this year’s awards

Derbyshire is in the pink... flushed with success in the 2013 East Midlands in Bloom (EMIB) Awards. Amidst a record 55 Bloom entries and 135 It’s Your Neighbourhood entries – another record – Derbyshire’s competing communities may also have attained an all-time high, with Rosliston winning Best Village for an unprecedented fifth successive year, Belper winning Best Large Town with a Gold Award for the fourth successive year, and Darley Dale, Middleton by Wirksworth and Milford each earning Silver Gilt for the first time.

Staveley achieved its first ever Silver, and Derbyshire schools won three of the four Best School Garden Awards.

Darley Dale’s progress after only two years of entering EMIB was rewarded with the Taylor’s Bulbs Award for Most Improved Entrant. The Retirement Village at St Elphin’s Park also won the Barcham Trees Best New Permanent Landscape Award. ‘We are delighted that the EMIB judges recognised the infectious enthusiasm of our bloom group and that it’s galvanising the community,’ says Darley Dale in Bloom committee member Mike Backler.

One notable initiative was the organising of a Fun Dog Show. ‘We received more than 70 entries, used it as a fund-raiser and found it so good for community involvement that we have planned a bigger and better one for 2014,’ points out Mike. ‘We also initiated a community litter-pick, a children’s competition for The Tallest Sunflower, a campaign to improve the pavement beds and grass verges of six avenues, updated our Whitworth Park Trail, and gained sponsorship from several local businesses. One business – Red House Stables – even provided a horse and carriage to take the judges round on their tour, which was a lovely touch.’

Business involvement is vitally important, says Belper in Bloom Chairman John Nelson. ‘Every flower bed in our town is sponsored,’ he points out. John once again applauds the ‘fantastic community effort’ which enabled Belper to win a fourth consecutive Gold: ‘We have a considerable and enthusiastic team of volunteers who are prepared to get their hands dirty and leave no stone unturned. Twenty years ago, the town was in a terrible state. For example, the path next to our Heritage Centre at St John’s Chapel was so overgrown with brambles that you couldn’t even walk on it. Now it’s a picture to behold, as is the rest of the town, notably the Memorial Gardens and River Gardens.’

The transformation at Rosliston has been just as dramatic. Named Best Village, there was also Gold for both Chapman’s Nurseries in the Best Retail/Commercial Display category and villager Dean Wright in the Best Residential Garden category. Also the Bull’s Head earned Silver Gilt in the Best Pub Display and Rosliston C of E Primary School gained Bronze in the Best Fruit & Veg Garden Award. A sixth accolade was Rosliston In Bloom Chairman Paul Marbrow receiving a Judges’ Award for 21 years of dedicated service.

In 1991, Paul was Chairman of the Parish Council when the invitation to enter EMIB coincided with a Parish Council scheme to spruce up the village green. Two decades on, the difference is profound. From a place that was known for the workhouse where 32 parishes sent their poor, Rosliston is now affectionately known in South Derbyshire as ‘the village of flowers’.

‘Our EMIB success has given us pride, cultivated friendships, boosted tourism and generally made us a more prosperous and contented village,’ believes Paul. So what, I ask him, is the key to their five consecutive wins plus two Silver Gilt awards at Britain in Bloom? ‘Dedication, a passion for horticulture, care for one’s environment, listening to every idea, paying attention to detail, thinking of the impossible and trying to achieve it, going the extra mile when needed, and a will to succeed.’ Paul is the only original In Bloom member left and with the Bloom group now down to a hard core of four, Rosliston’s EMIB future could be in doubt as he has decided to hang up his trowel for the time being.

It would be a shame if Rosliston decided not to enter as 2014 is EMIB’s Jubilee year. EMIB chairman Jeff Bates promises ‘a year of celebratory activities’, and hopes for a record main Bloom entry of at least 60 communities, with the likelihood of three new Derbyshire entrants: Draycott, Little Eaton and Wessington.

2014 is also the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and Belper is already planning a spectacular hillside display of poppies. News made all the more exciting as the town will once again be going for Gold as East Midlands in Bloom’s representative at next year’s Britain in Bloom.

LARGE TOWN

BELPER – GOLD & CATEGORY WINNER

‘The judges noted the funfair theme of floral bedding in the Memorial Park, the lovely River Gardens, the unique Beaurepaire garden, Wyver Lane Nature Reserve and excellent press and BBC Radio Derby support as a few of the many strengths of the entry.’ Judges Award to Meadow Court.

ILKESTON – SILVER GILT

‘Quality floral displays, new development projects and evidence of enthusiastic community involvement. Heritage was to the fore with the Stanton Coal truck and the Ilkeston Giant prominent.’ Judges Award to the Friends of Straws Bridge.

LONG EATON – SILVER GILT

‘Excellent roundabout and park floral displays. Long Eaton School continues to support the “Bloom” campaign. The introduction of high quality floral Barrier Baskets, the maturing of the planting scheme at the Library and the long term plans for further improvements confirms Long Eaton’s steady progress towards that elusive Gold.’ Judges Award to Long Eaton Horticultural Society maintaining the Library gardens.

SMALL TOWN

BAKEWELL – SILVER GILT

‘Throughout the tour, the judges were shown numerous examples of where this dedicated bloom team is making a real difference to the appearance of the town. Some of the highlights included the Bath Gardens, the subsidised Hanging Baskets, and the lovely Riverside Gardens.’ Judges Award for the Grafika Garden.

DARLEY DALE – SILVER GILT ‘Making giant strides under the enthusiastic bloom group. The tour highlighted the strong community participation. The enthusiasm of the group is infectious, and is starting to galvanise the community into a real sense of pride.’ Judges Award to the ‘splendid’ gardens at Peak Rail.

STAVELEY – SILVER

‘The relationship with partners was evident and the funding received was to be admired. Staveley has created an opportunity to put the town back on the map and the judges look forward to seeing all the projects develop in the future.’ Judges Award for their fund-raising efforts.

VILLAGE

ROSLISTON – SILVER GILT & CATEGORY WINNER

‘Excellent displays in the village centre, the exciting school vegetable beds, a litter-free environment and splendid links with the education programmes at the National Forest Centre were all strengths.’ Judges Award to Paul Marbrow (right) for 21 years of dedication to Rosliston in Bloom.

MIDDLETON BY WIRKSWORTH – SILVER GILT ‘Many improvements noted, including more colourful displays, greater community participation in the communal areas, an excellent school garden, and improved contributions from the two village pubs.’ Judges Award for the Wildflower Meadows at Red Hill Quarry and on the High Peak Trail.

LARGE VILLAGE

MILFORD – SILVER GILT

‘High quality of community participation and team-working, a village-wide display of willow-sculpture and a highly creditable Community Orchard were amongst the strengths of this most impressive entry.’ Judges Award to Blooming Milford

URBAN COMMUNITY

LITTLEOVER – SILVER

‘This attractive urban community on the edge of Derby feels more like a village with pretty front gardens and colourful public houses. Considerable input to horticultural features has won this entry well deserved better marks. The allotments are impressive and the Edible Littleover bed at the shopping centre was very striking.’ Judges Award to the staff and pupils of St Peter’s School.

SMALL CITY

CHESTERFIELD - SILVER GILT

‘The tour around Chesterfield saw some impressive sights. The Boythorpe Allotments are an excellent example of traditional allotment gardening. The newly refurbished Eastwood Park is an excellent community facility and a good portfolio also highlighted the value of country parks too. The Japanese garden at St Mary’s School was a delight to see.’

IT’S YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

DRAYCOTT VILLAGE FUND achieves a Level 5 Outstanding for ‘their work to bring pride and colour to the community.’

SPONDON VILLAGE IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE achieves L4 Thriving for ‘the continued maintenance of the sensory garden in the village.’

BASLOW COMMUNITY ORCHARD achieves a Level 2 Developing for ‘establishing the community orchard in the village.’

SPECIAL AWARDS

MOST IMPROVED ENTRANT - Darley Dale

BEST NEW PERMANENT LANDSCAPE - Audley Retirement Village, St Elphin’s, Darley Dale

BEST FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GARDEN - Ridgeway Infant School, Ridgeway

BEST ORNAMENTAL GARDEN - St Mary’s RC Primary School, Chesterfield

BEST GARDEN FOR WILDLIFE - Draycott Community Primary School

DIGITAL PHOTO COMPETITION

WINNER - Class A (Reception to year 2) - Madison Butler from Spire Infants School, Chesterfield

WINNER - Class B (Years 3 to 6) - Keeley Whitehead from Rosliston C of E Primary School.

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