Lytham toasts double victory at RHS and Britain in Bloom awards

PUBLISHED: 11:42 20 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:42 20 November 2013

The Shrimper in Lowther Gardens

The Shrimper in Lowther Gardens

Archant

This coastal town has defeated leafy rivals across the country to be declared Champion of Champions.

The Shrimper in Lowther GardensThe Shrimper in Lowther Gardens

It’s known across Lancashire as Leafy Lytham but there is more to this coastal town that hanging baskets and teashops. If you doubt that just ask the judges who have named it ‘the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful location in Britain.’

The volunteers who helped to earn this accolade will now proudly fly Britain In Bloom’s Gold Flag in Lowther Gardens after the town was declared ‘Champion of Champions’ in the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Awards. It’s the community equivalent of winning the Premier League and the FA Cup in the same season.

The town beat North Berwick in the Scottish borders, Halstead in Essex, Hern in Guernsey and Stanghow in Cleveland and it was all the more remarkable because it was the town’s first attempt.

Harrogate horticultural officer Sue Wood was one of the RHS judges. ‘Lytham is an incredibly community-oriented place. I have been judging there since 2007 when they won a Britain in Bloom silver gilt. Some places might have settled for that but it has been amazing to watch how the volunteers in Lytham have put in so much effort and dedication. They weren’t willing to settle for second best.

‘They have always shown themselves to be desperate to improve and ask questions about how to get a better mark next time. For me, the Friends of the Estuary was one of the high points. They have 130 volunteers who go out and pick up rubbish from the shoreline. Another great example was the Park View 4U playing fields project. These are all people who want to put something back.

‘But the thing I particularly liked was the level of fun that everyone has got from the competition. They really enjoy the social side. I am sure it will have a positive impact on the town. More and more people will want to go there and see how it should be done.’

Lytham in Bloom chairman Jim Leak added: ‘The awards ceremony in London was a nerve-racking event. There was dramatic music and each of the contestants went onto the stage, one by one. It was the closest I’ve been to Strictly Come Dancing. When we won the whole place erupted.

‘The whole place lit up - it was an amazing moment. To think that little old Lytham is the best in the country is astonishing and we haven’t yet come down off the ceiling’

It is the first time any north west town has been in the Champion of Champions section, let alone win it. But success only came because of the camaraderie of volunteers who put in thousands of hours. ‘The judges were looking for more than just flower beds and hanging baskets,’ added Jim. ‘They also looked at allotments, parks, involvement by the community, schools, street cleaning, recycling and environmental care.

‘We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from local businesses - some have said it means more to the town than staging the Open golf championships. I’m sure it will have an economic impact and bring more people in to see what we have to offer.’

Next step is the Entente Florale which widens the competition to Europe. If Lytham wins that, they might just need an open-top bus!

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