Hundreds of volunteers across the North East who worked to beautify their communities reaped their rewards yesterday.
How bloom had lightened the economic gloom was celebrated at an wards ceremony at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
At the Northumbria in Bloom competition awards event, it was revealed that a record number of gold medal certificates had been won by more than 100 communities.
Sedgefield in County Durham won the Percy Boydell Trophy for Overall Best Entry for 2013 along with the award for Best Small Town.
Sedgefield is one of Northumbria in Bloom’s entries in the national Britain in Bloom 2013 competition. Judges described this entry as: “Outstanding. The Bloom group work exceptionally well together, their monthly meetings show real dedication and their organisation and careful planning are demonstrated in their wonderful horticultural achievements throughout the town.”
A total of 73 places were visited by Northumbria in Bloom judges in the spring and summer,.
The overall results reflected steady improvement in the North East, with 26 villages, towns and cities achieving gold certificates, and over 100 special awards were awarded the gold standard.
Chairwoman of Northumbria in Bloom, Mrs Eileen Burn, said: “Despite the seemingly never-ending winter, this has been a summer of triumph – not only the triumph of sunshine and warm temperatures, but the triumph of hardworking volunteers in communities in co-operation with their local councils.
“That well over half of our villages, towns and cities have achieved higher marks or stayed at the same level this year says it all.
“When economic gloom hangs over our heads we just get those heads down and produce fantastic results. Our judges this year have discovered countless examples of enterprise and initiative.”
Mrs Burn told the volunteers and guests at the Stadium of Light that the Northumbria in Bloom campaign was not just about winning accolades.
She said: “Remember that above all you are doing this for yourselves. What you are doing in the way of gardening, reclaiming poor areas, conservation, keeping your community up to the mark is all about caring for where you live, being proud of where you are, and working together to achieve results.”
This was typified by Woodbine Terrace in Corbridge, Northumberland, which won the section for best combined efforts of residents.
This terrace was described by the judges as “a hidden gem of Corbridge.
“The visual impact of this delightful cul-de-sac is stunning. Each small front garden is immaculate, every one with its individual characteristics.
“The gardens opposite the terrace are equally impressive, with much variety.
“There are wonderful plant choices throughout the gardens – all sympathetic to their setting. Privet hedges are clipped to perfection. Bird boxes abound, and are well-inhabited. Neighbourliness shines through this community, with the more able bodied residents helping those less able. This is a benchmark residential community with horticulture at its heart.”
Mrs Burn said the Northumbria in Bloom campaign reached beyond judging villages, towns and cities.
Major awards were
Best Small Village: Great Whittington, Northumberland
Best Village: Moorsholm, Redcar and Cleveland
Best Large Village: Warkworth, Northumberland.
Best Town: Morpeth, Northumberland.
Best Large Town: Durham
Best Small City: Thornaby
Best City: Stockton
Best Large City: Sunderland.
Best Urban Community: Eston, Redcar and Cleveland
Best Coastal Resort: Saltburn,Redcar and Cleveland
Most Improved Entry: Ouston, County Durham.
Special award winners
Best kept grounds of a care home: Middleton Hall Retirement Village, Middleton St George.
Best kept grounds of a religious establishment maintained by parishioners: St Mary’s Church, Moorsholm.
Best individual commercial effort for the upkeep and layout of external premises: The Alnwick Garden.
Best conservation project: Herrington Country Park, Sunderland.
Best kept and florally attractive bus, Metro or railway station: Saltburn Railway Station.
Best effort for upkeep of external pub or hotel premises: The Golden Lion, Sedgefield.
Best Park: Ropner Park, Stockton.
Best shopping precinct, retail park: Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth.
Most attractive front garden: Hazel Tree Farmhouse, Moorsholm.
Best hospital: Hexham Hospital
Best college, university grounds or sports centre: Redcar Racecourse.
Best allotment association: Ayton Gardens allotment site, Washington.
2013 Discretionary Award: Pottergate Adult Training Centre, Alnwick
Best Voluntary Project in support of Northumbria in Bloom: Saltburn library.
Best Business Park: Doxford International, Sunderland.
Outstanding contribution by a salaried individual: Norman Atkinson, parks & allotments development officer at Sunderland City Council.
Outstanding voluntary contribution by a private individual: Barry MCabe, Moorsholm.