It was smiles all round in Warwick this week as residents gathered to celebrate their golden triumph in this year’s Heart of England in Bloom competition.
It’s the second year on the run that Warwick has achieved gold - but with higher overall marks this year thanks to the even greater efforts of communities like Albert Street, Antelope Gardens, Victoria Street, Woodcote Road and the Friends of Warwick Railway Station.
Town mayor Moira-Ann Grainger and local MP Chris White were among those who offered their personal congratulations to all involved.
And it was very much an all-hands-to-the-pump effort.
Chris White helped form the friends of the station group and in spare moments before the regional judges arrived even Cllr Grainger had removed her mayoral chain and got stuck in with a bit of litter picking in the streets.
Both praised the efforts of neighbours like Terry Avery and Don Whittington who between them mow 35 lawns in Antelope Gardens, which is largely occupied by older residents. Their wives, Elaine and Teresa, are also busy watering the hanging baskets.
Cllr Grainger said: “I’m told one man helped put up 55 hanging-basket brackets on Albert Street alone - all those involved should be congratulated. This is a great example of community spirit.”
Margaret Ellis, who has maintained her own window box in Albert Street for the past 25 years, is delighted that so many others are now involved, leading to them being singled out for the town’s new community streets award.
Her neighbour Keith Collins is even more enthusiastic.
He said: “I’d like to see the judges looking at the backs of our homes as well as the fronts!”
District council services manager Martyn Stacey was very happy that their contractors, Veolia Environmental, who take care of the refuse and parks, had done so well.
And Christine and James Collins were thrilled their Barn Close Nurseries, which supplied most of the plants, was praised in the judges’ report, as was Saltisford Canal Trust.
Chris White said: “This has been a tremendous community achievement with so many people giving of their time and energy to make Warwick look absolutely fantastic.”
Warwick councillor Mandy Littlejohn, who chairs the town’s culture and communities committee, made it her personal mission to act as cheerleader for the whole Heart of England entry and was regularly seen out watering, litter-picking and encouraging even greater community involvement.
She has also launched the Street Pride initiative which should help future entries.