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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Blossoming spirit of Cumbria saluted in bloom contest

Blooming community spirit has made areas of Cumbria brighter places to live.

Kirkoswald photo
Kirkoswald impressed in many ways

That’s the view of experts who have rewarded great gardeners and those who keep their streets tidy with accolades.

Their labours over spring and summer were cheered at the annual Cumbria in Bloom Awards yesterday.

And despite the cash pressures now weighing on local authorities and community groups, it would seem they remain as determined as every to ensure their surroundings stay at their best.

The village of Kirkoswald in the Eden valley was among the big winners, taking a string of the competition’s premier prizes.

Its residents took the prize for best overall village, as well as its community shop taking the award for industry, an honour shared in the commercial section by village pub the Fetherston Arms.

Elsewhere, Kirkoswald was joint runner-up with Cummersdale in the tidy village section, and joint runner-up with Houghton for best sustainable development. Kirkoswald school club was winner of the prize honouring best project or effort by youngsters while the village’s Methodist chapel was winner of the churchyard prize.

Cummersdale also took the title for achievement in the Carlisle district, while Keswick was named best in Allerdale and Greystoke, the most improved place in Eden.

Dalston continued its good run of form in the competition for best large village, while Orton Primary School near Penrith took the accolade for best school garden. Hayton School, near Brampton, was runner-up.

Meanwhile, a massive community effort in Stanwix, Carlisle, which included community litter-picks and street cleaning, led to the area being rewarded with the prize for best urban community.

An increased number of entries to the competition has meant a busy summer for the judges.

In the It’s Your Neighbourhood section, which forms part of the wider Britain in Bloom competition, numbers taking part this year rose by 25 per cent.

But for all the effort that goes into examining entries, Cumbria in Bloom chairman Alan Heath says it’s well worth it. “Standards have been pretty high. We’ve had no reduction in standards,” he said ahead of yesterday’s awards ceremony at the Wave Centre in Maryport.

“It’s quite a lot of work for the judges looking at all the entries.

“It’s tiring, but enjoyable.

“It’s lovely to go around and see all the work, especially at the schools, where you go in and the children show you around. They are always very excited and knowledgeable.”

Some of the efforts, such as that in Stanwix, have seen community groups joining forces to make sure where they live was seen at its best.

Mr Heath, of Workington, believes as well that work such as that on view shows people have a pride in where they live.

“Most of the comments from judges seem to be about the way communities are working together to do things,” he added.

“What seems to be changing though, especially in the In Your Neighbourhood category, is that the number of smaller groups taking part seems to be multiplying, while town and village-wide groups are reducing.”

On the competition as a whole, he said: “It’s been a very successful year.”

Other successes in north Cumbria included that for Houghton Village Hall, ranked as “outstanding” in the It’s Your Neighbourhood section, an honour also bestowed on Watchtree Nature Reserve at Great Orton near Carlisle.

Penrith Community Garden was classed as “thriving”, while the open spaces eco garden at William Howard School in Brampton is “developing”, judges said.

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