Fylde has celebrated a golden hat-trick at the Britain in Bloom awards.
Lytham narrowly missed out on a second UK Champion of Champions prize after its success at the first attempt in 2013, but took gold as the coastal resort up to 12,000 population representative in the Champion of Champions category.
Meanwhile, Freckleton took gold and was category winner in the Britain In Bloom small town section and Elswick won gold and was joint category winner with Castlecaulfield, Northern Ireland in the village section.
There was also delight for Lytham’s Park View 4U, a vital destination on the judges’ tour of the town, which took the discretionary Britain in Bloom Public Park Award.
The awards handed out by the Royal Horticultrural Society came just a few days before Elswick won the medium village category at the Lancashire Best Kept Village Award ceremony - and there is even more good news for Elswick, which has been invited into next year’s Champion of Champions, in which it will be competing against Aberdeen, Harrogate, St Petersport, Hillsborough, Oldham and Portishead.
The Britain In Bloom prizes were presented at a ceremony in Birmingham hosted by TV gardening expert Chris Beardshaw.
Lytham, as the North West representative, was one of only six areas from across the UK chosen to compete in the coveted Champion of Champions category of the awards.
While it lost out on the ultimate prize to Ahoghill in Northern Ireland, its gold is the highest medal available, and Lytham In Bloom officials feel it confirms again the town’s position as arguably the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful small coastal town in Britain.
Lytham In Bloom treasurer David Kerr said: “We are extremely proud of being awarded a gold medal. Lytham was within six points of the eventual winners Ahoghill of Northern Ireland, out of a possible 300 points to be awarded, so we were very close indeed to a second Champion of Champions honour.
“The judges praised ‘a truly excellent overall entry from Lytham in Bloom that clearly exemplified how Bloom group, council and community can work together’ and they were very impressed by the range and extent of planting across the town, adding, ‘it is probably the best that Britain in Bloom judges have seen of this remarkable place. The Bloom group’s continued efforts to engage with residents and businesses are paying dividends. Lytham was pretty much spotless’.
“It is clear that the in Bloom group continues to go from strength to strength, extending relationships with other amenity groups as well as local businesses and associations’.
The judges also said: “Visiting ParkView4U was a particular highlight for the judges and its evolution shows no signs of slowing down, a true testament to community ambition and empowerment’.”
For Freckleton in Bloom, it was third time lucky after two previous silver gilt awards on the national stage and chairman Sue Lee said: “It’s a real team effort. Everyone gave it all they had and we are really proud.
“We had no idea until the presentation evening how we had done and it was a wonderful feeling to hear from the stage that we had won gold.
“The judges gave us top marks on all aspects including community participation as well as horticultural impression and we are absolutely delighted.”
Elswick councillor Paul Hayhurst, who also received a community champion award from the RHS, said: “We were delighted to receive the Britain in Bloom village gold award. It’s a tribute to the hard work and dedication of a group of more than 50 volunteers who have put in countless hours to achieve it.
“Particular thanks must go to our village lengthsman Andrew Atkinson who is out in all hours and weather keeping our village immaculate.
“Britain in Bloom has completely transformed our village. Twenty years ago we had a couple of weed-infested flower beds and vandalism was rife. Now Elswick is known locally as the Village of Flowers.
“For us to win this award and to be invited back to compete in the Champion of Champions category is testimony as to what hard work and Britain in Bloom can do for a community.”
Roger Burnett, chairman of the UK judging panel, said: “This has been a truly outstanding year for Britain in Bloom with local communities devoting tremendous amounts of time and effort into greening grey areas and sharing the many health and social benefits of horticulture.
“The finalists’ desire and determination to make their environment as green and pleasant as possible was truly humbling.”
Lytham, Freckleton and Elswick were joined by a variety of other Fylde locations, including St Annes, Wrea Green, Kirkham and Ansdell, in taking part in their respective categories in the North West Bloom awards and the results of that competition are due to be announced on October 28.