Vic supports Sidmouth in Bloom presentation awards

TAKING time out of his busy schedule as chairman of South West in Bloom, Vic Verrier MBE was guest of honour at Thursday s Sidmouth in Bloom presentation night.

TAKING time out of his busy schedule as chairman of South West in Bloom, Vic Verrier MBE was guest of honour at Thursday's Sidmouth in Bloom presentation night.

"We look on Sidmouth as being one of our jewels in the crown. It always puts on a fantastic entry and people return to this seaside resort year after year to see the floral displays," he told a packed Knowle chamber.

He said the committee's decision to take a break from the RHS competition in 2009 was the right one, giving it time to take stock of new criteria expected of contestants in SW and Britain in Bloom.

He described president Joy Seward's decision, and that of new chairman Jane Sutherland-Earl, to "take stock" as a brave one, and they could look forward to being welcomed back to the 2010 competition.

"I hope you get support from the town and district councils. If you take home a gold or silver gilt you are looked on as king pin, but at the end of the day, taking part is more important and each one of you plays a part in that and help make your town what it is," he said.

He said next year's theme remained Local Roots. There are now three elements towns and villages have to adhere to in the competition.

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These are Horticultural achievements - flowers, parks and gardens, residential areas, schools, shops and pubs, and open group spaces;

Environmental responsibility - conservation, wild flower areas, recycling, litter collection, management of local heritage and art and hard landscaping;

Community participation - where judges expect to see people at work, meet groups of children looking after flower beds, beach cleaning by individual groups, organisations, such as the WI, helping to build flower beds.

"As well as flowers there has to be sustainable planting, the use of perennials on roundabouts, say, and everyone must get involved and be committed to the entry."

Town council chairman, Councillor Peter Sullivan, said the council had been shocked to learn Sidmouth in Bloom had pulled out of the 2009 contest but agreed it had been the right decision.

"With the change to the competition and committee - after the resignation of former chairman John Govier - it would have struggled to move forward," he said.

"It has been a surprise to me and a lot of people how good the town is looking. You can't tell it has not been in the competition.

"The schools did a lot of work around the year and enhanced what they did the year before."

In her report, Mr Seward said the committee had received many letters congratulating it on its work and said some people came to Sidmouth "especially to see the displays after they have been recommended by earlier visitors."

On the decision not to enter the 2009 competition, she said there were a number of places the committee felt it could not take the judges, such as Waitrose, with its extension construction, and the ambulance station, which was being decorated and had no floral display.

"There is just the building opposite M & Co that spoils the town and we do hope that by the time the judges come around in 2010 this will also be improved."

Mrs Seward thanked people for donating pots and garden tools to local schools and Sidmouth College for being involved this year as well as owners of eight gardens who opened for six days in July and raised �226 for the committee's work.

She spoke of several new features to show judges in 2010, including the ancient olive tree near Blackmore Health Centre, donated by Sidmouth Garden Centre, an old anchor, to be placed in the marine area at the Three-cornered Plot donated by Stan Bagwell in memory of his son, Ian, lost at sea, and the secret garden in memory of Bloom member Ann Bagwell, now under construction.

There is also the new Rhynchosaur feature, sponsored by the Franks family of Oakdown.

Mrs Seward and the chairman presented Roger Franks with the Rose Endean Bowl for his and wife Doreen's efforts to raise sponsorship through a customer payback scheme at their caravan park for this display.

Mrs Franks, unable to attend the presentation evening because of illness, "would have been delighted to have picked this award up," said her husband.

"We are aiming to raise �2,000 and have got 55 percent of the way already, and will keep the same sponsorship going in the coming year to keep the promise we made."

Other cups and trophies went to:

Neighbourhood effort: joint winners - Witheby and Russell Street (gold); Residential and care homes: Malden House (gold); Biodiversity gardens: Jasmine Cottage (gold);

Best hanging garden: Terry Jones (gold); Public houses with gardens: Blue Ball (gold); Public houses frontage only: joint winners - Radway and Anchor (silver gilt); Commercial building: War Memorial Club (gold); Churches: St Peters, Sidford, (gold).

Hotels with large gardens: Belmont (gold); Hotels with medium gardens: Littlecourt (gold); Hotels and guest houses with large frontage: Kingswood (gold); Hotels and guest houses with small gardens: Old Farm House (gold); Hotels and guest houses, small frontage: Berwick (silver gilt).

Large shop frontage: Potburys (gold); Medium shops: Haymans, Church Street (gold); Small shops: Haymans, Woolbrook (gold); Small gardens: Frank Leach (gold); Medium gardens: Colin Ratcliffe (gold); Large gardens: Mr and Mrs Robertshaw (gold).

Schools: Sidmouth College (gold); Restaurants and cafes: Mocha (gold).