RHS judges visited Wilmslow today to see all the incredibly hard work volunteers have put into this year's North West In Bloom entry, and they certainly seemed impressed.
Guided by Ruth McNulty, In Bloom Chair, and Helen Yates, of Incredible Edible Wilmslow the judges visited Lindow Common where they were shown the heathland's wildlife, history and the restoration work which has been carried out.
From there they were taken to the Fulshaw WI's Centenary Garden on the corner of Arlington Way, Transition Wilmslow's community vegetable garden at 'The Temp' recreation ground on Gravel Lane and on to meet the Chapel Lane Business Group.
Mel Kirby and Russ Baguley were then brought into the town centre to view the 75 businesses taking part, the Town Council planters, Incredible Edible beds, the school planters outside Barclays Bank and the Community Butterfly & Bee Weaving at Bank Square.
They also met many of the businesses and volunteers along the way, including representatives from Clean Team Wilmslow who were out cleaning the judges route yesterday morning and evening despite the dreadful weather, collecting 21 bags of rubbish.
The tour ended at The Carrs Park where Friends of the Carrs showed the judges the environmental and community work they have carried out before they took a stroll to the Memorial Gardens to view the Rotarians rose garden and enjoy lunch.
Helen Yates said "Showing the judges around this morning with Ruth and introducing them to all of the different representatives from across the business, council and voluntary sectors really does make me feel incredibly proud of Wilmslow and what we are achieving together. What a collaboration! Well done everyone."
Speaking just before lunch judge Mel Kirby, who also visited Wilmslow last year, said "Thank you to everybody, everybody who has come out to meet us today. Britain in Bloom, North West in Bloom - it's a bit misleading the title the bloom because the blooms are a small percentage, it's the businesses, the litter pickers, the weeders, everything. The whole thing makes the bloom. The Council support etc.
"Thoroughly enjoyed Wilmslow, we've been made to feel really welcome as usual. Thanks to all of you. Well done."
Judge Russ Baguley added "I just want to second that. Thank you very much for everything you've done. The hospitality absolutely fantastic. Thanks to Helen for her time keeping skills, which I'm really impressed with. We've taken a lot of information off you. Your enthusiasm and your community participation is excellent. We're verbally telling you it's fantastic, well done and keep going as you're definitely on the right track."
In Bloom Chair Ruth McNulty said "Our In Bloom event is arguably the largest participatory event in the town. It brings together the collaborative efforts of over seventy businesses, all nine primary schools and the High School, more voluntary groups than you can shake a stick at, the Business Group of course and both Cheshire East Council and the Town Council who are our principle sponsors.
"So the list of people I have to thank is extensive and so rather than attempt anything comprehensive, I hope you will excuse in the interest of brevity if I highlight half a dozen.
"Thanks to all those businesses who have put out a planter to enhance the work of the Town Council. Thanks to the horticultural collaborators - Oak Nurseries, Primrose Cottage Nurseries, Turners Nurseries and Doug Christie and his colleagues at Ansa for their sympathetic displays.
"Thanks to the Clean Team for their exceptional contribution not only this week in this horrible weather but throughout the year.
"Particular thanks to the members of Fulshaw WI, who have not only planted memorial beds but who have also contributed to this lunch and who have also made the floral bunting hanging on the trees in Grove Street. I should tell you this bunting will be taken down in the next couple of weeks and will be loaned to the Parish Council at Bosley. Bosley is hosting a leg of the cycle Tour of Britain in September and their Council wants to make the village look as jolly as possible given the dreadful consequences to their community after the fie at the wood mill two years ago.
"Thanks to the Rotary Club of Wilmslow Dean and to Geoff Shelmerdine in particular for their work in galvanising groups to make scarecrows.
"And talking of galvanising brings me to Helen, Georgie and Denise, who are the backbone of our In Bloom team. Georgie has charmed or persuaded local businesses to contribute. Denise and Peter have hoisted planters around, have given us the protection of the gazebos today and brought together our portfolio.
"However, Helen the star of the show, who has really driven this whole organisation in 5 years from nothing to this sort of standard and this sort of collaboration and quite rightly she was awarded a community award last year by the Business Group. As Chair I have to say it a delight and a privilege to work with you all."
Last year, Wilmslow won a Gold Award in the Best Large Town category. for the second consecutive year, along with the trophy for Best Community Effort. In addition, the Friends of the Carrs won a Thriving award in the It's Your Neighbourhood category. Once again they will be judged against other large towns in the North West, such as Congleton and Crewe.
The results will be announced during an all day event at Southport Convention Centre on 30th October where six representatives will attend for Wilmslow.