Sidmouth beats odds to land Britain in Bloom spot

SIDMOUTH has been selected from more than 1,000 entries to take part in the 2012 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals.

A group of volunteer residents this week formed a brand new committee that will drive the town’s bid for floral glory.

The move meant Sidmouth was able to be entered into the prestigious competition on Wednesday.

The town is one of only 73 finalists and had been placed into a coastal category alongside Bangor, Herne Bay and Great Yarmouth.

Long-serving ex-members of Sidmouth in Bloom, who resigned en-masse last year, will officially step down in the coming weeks – and hand over duties to the new group.

Lynette Talbot, chairman of the committee in waiting, said: “Sidmouth is a town that is noted for its gardens and flower displays. We were horrified to hear that, when the committee stepped down, there was no one to take over.

“We’re going to give our best to achieve an award that the work of the last committee deserved.

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“It’s the only way to go. We’ve got nothing to lose.

“The whole thing is to promote Sidmouth as a town and bring in tourists,” added Lynette, of Coulsdon Road.

Sidmouth will also enter the regional South West in Bloom competition in which it triumphed to be offered a place in the nationals.

Finalists in Britain in Bloom, ranging from small rural villages to major industrial cities, are each aiming for a gold medal - and the coveted title of category winner.

The contest is the nation’s largest environmental campaign and involves more than 200,000 volunteers.

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “It is an absolute honour for the RHS to be associated with these groups and individuals, and I wish Sidmouth the very best of luck.”

She said the judging panel will tour the country in July, awarding points against three key criteria - horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.

The 2012 RHS Britain in Bloom results will be announced in October at a special Awards Ceremony in St Peter Port, Guernsey.