READING has been awarded a Silver Gilt Award in the National Britain in Bloom UK finals – the town’s first entry into the National competition since 2000.
The RHS Britain in Bloom judges announced the winners of each category and finalists’ final score at an awards ceremony in Belfast on 19th October 2018.
Reading also achieved an overall Silver Gilt Award in the Regional Award (City Category). In previous years, Reading has won numerous accolades within the Thames & Chiltern City category and in the RHS Parks category.
The town was also awarded a Regional Award 2018 for Managing the Environment and the Ridgeline Trust Therapeutic Garden in east Reading received the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood Award’ (Level 5 – Outstanding).
For the first time, Henley Road Cemetery scooped a prestigious Gold Award in the Regional Award Parks and Open Spaces category. It is only the third time the location has entered, having won a Silver Gilt award in 2016 and 2017.
On Reading’s National entry, the judges said: “This is a welcome return to the UK finals for Reading in Bloom. Reading hasn’t been sitting back in their 18 year break. The judges were shown some major developments such as Green Park and heard about many more that are progressing. The visit to Geoffrey Fields Junior School showed the next generation of bloomers are coming on nicely and will keep Reading looking into the future.”
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “These awards are great achievements for Reading and something we should be very proud of. To achieve a Silver Gilt in the national awards is fantastic news for the town. It would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of many organisations and individuals and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved.
“I’m particularly pleased to see Henley Road Cemetery gaining further well deserved recognition with its Gold Award for its impressive horticultural displays, which are testament to a successful joint effort between the parks and bereavement teams.
“Achieving such impressive results is down to team work and the Council is keen to build the profile of the Reading and Britain in Bloom entries by encouraging even more volunteers and community groups to get involved throughout the year. We hope everyone will help us build on this success in the Reading in Bloom entry for 2019, when we will be aiming to go one better and win a Gold award!”
The judges visited the town in July. They agreed that Henley Road Cemetery “continues to improve year on year,” and that the site is an “attractive and well cared for open space – one of the best in the area,” and that the award was “well deserved.”
The most notable improvement for the town was in the Community Participation score from the previous year. The judges commented on the strength of “the partnership between Reading in Bloom, the Council, sponsors and the various groups and organisations involved. The efforts and enthusiasm of the many volunteers met throughout the tour was notable.”
The judges admired Reading’s many colourful and well maintained hanging baskets and floral displays provided by the Business Improvement District and local business sponsors. They praised the “sympathetic restoration of the Abbey Ruins,” and said how “it is wonderful to see the space open again and being so well used.”
The restoration work in the Forbury Gardens was singled out as well as the floral displays at Caversham Court Gardens, including the new ‘stumpery’ created by the Friends Group. Caversham Court had once again been awarded the Green Flag and Green Heritage Award this summer.
The judges also gave very positive feedback and comments about Reading Old Cemetery as a real asset of nature conservation and heritage and on the work being undertaken to create a greener and healthier environment through sustainable practices, and in particular, a more sustainable transport network in the town. They concluded “The efforts of the Reading in Bloom Committee, the Business Improvement District, the Council and their partners, together with numerous volunteers working across a diverse range of sites and projects have led to a very good Bloom entry.”
Notes to Editors
The annual Britain in Bloom competition is the largest horticultural event in Europe and attracts nearly 2,000 entries from cities, towns and villages across Britain. www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/britain-in-bloom
Now in its 54th year, the nationwide competition pits rural villages, urban corners and city centres against one another across a range of criteria that includes horticultural know-how, community engagement, efforts to bolster biodiversity and climate change adaptation. Finalists are put forward to the national finals based on their progress locally and will be scored by a team of RHS judges this summer.
The main aim of the competition is to encourage and celebrate local communities that strive to improve their local environment. Reading’s entry and bloom initiatives are undertaken in a partnership between Reading Borough Council and the voluntary Reading in Bloom organisation.