After an absence of over ten years, Exeter is taking part in this year’s prestigious competition. Judging will take place in Exeter tomorrow (Tuesday 8 July) before the results are announced in Trowbridge on 18 September.
In April, the Chairman of RHS Britain in Bloom South West, Jon Wheatley, said he was "delighted" to welcome Exeter back to the competition. Exeter was one of the 'highlight' cities when the competition started 50 years ago and although it has been absent from the main category event for over a decade, its return this year has delighted the organisers.
Cllr Keith Owen, Exeter City Council's Lead Councillor for Environment, Health & Wellbeing, said he was excited at the prospect of the judging stage: “A lot of hard work has gone into this bid. Our parks staff have been working diligently, attending to the blooms and I am very grateful for the work of Exeter Parks Watch who have devoted so much time and effort in getting involved in this initiative.”
Sue Lawrence, Chair of Exeter Parks Watch, said: "This is the 50th anniversary of South West in Bloom so it's a significant moment for the city and University to be jointly hosting the judges with us this year. And to mark our re-entry, Exeter Parks Watch have provided a 12-foot model of 'Gerald the Golden Giraffe' which will feature in the South West in Bloom Show Garden at Hampton Court opening on Tuesday 8 July. 'Golden Gerald' will be Standing Tall for Exeter!"
Iain Park, Director of Grounds at the University of Exeter said: “We are really pleased to be able to support the city of Exeter in its bid to win a coveted RHS award. Participation in the competition enhances the outdoor environment for everyone living, working and studying in Exeter and the University has an important role to play in this as it is a popular destination for visitors, tourists and residents alike.”
The decision to take part in Britain in Bloom SW Main Competition follows the outstanding results achieved last year by the 14 community groups across the city who entered the smaller 'It's Your Neighbourhood' category, which enables community groups to celebrate the green spaces - parks, allotments, cemeteries, traffic islands - in their own area which they have helped to maintain, plant and keep clean.
This category, independent of the main competition for the city itself and assessed separately, had more than 500 entries from across the South West Region last year and it is anticipated the number of entries for this year will reach 600. Last year, awards for these groups were presented to Exeter Parks Watch members at a superb celebratory event held at Truro Cathedral last September which paid tribute to the commitment and creativity of the participating members. (A list of Award Winners and full details can be found at www.exeterparkswatch.org Click on 'RHS'.)
This year more than 20 groups from Exeter have entered 'It's Your Neighbourhood' and they will be assessed later this month. These groups also form community 'villages' in the city and include St Thomas, St David's, St James and Pennsylvania who will achieve a 'Village' designation. Given the number of Exeter entries this year, Exeter Parks Watch will be laying on a coach to take all award winners, with Exeter's Lord Mayor, to Trowbridge to celebrate their success in September.
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