The achievements of many of Harrogate’s unsung horticultural heroes were recognised in the Harrogate in Bloom awards at The Old Swan hotel on Sunday (September 25).
A glittering spread of trophies and certificates were presented to this year’s winners by garden enthusiast Sarah Hopps, a member of the North of England Horticultural Society Council. Dozens of volunteers and community representatives gathered at the hotel to reflect on another impressive year of gardening successes across the town.
Taking a breath after proudly presenting the awards, Sarah Hopps said: “I think the standard of the entries this year has been phenomenal. I love the time and effort that everyone puts into it all, and seeing so many people volunteer their time and expertise is so heart-warming.
“So many people benefit from it, and with gardening there’s something for everybody, whatever your skill and ability. I think this event is a real celebration of everyone’s hard work, and everybody is a winner.”
The Woodlands Methodist Church community garden was awarded the Harrogate Chamber of Trade Shield, and for the volunteers who walked through the assembled crowd to collect the award, it was a very proud moment.
Reena Patel, who volunteers at the garden with her 10-year-old daughter Divya, said: “I really enjoy helping out because it is lovely to see things grow - it is very satisfying. It is lovely to be recognised, and events like this bring the community together. It’s something nice to enjoy together.”
The Harrogate in Bloom President’s Award went to Horticap, which offers horticultural training and employment for people with learning disabilities.
Standing on the grass outside the hotel admiring the trophy, Steve Scarre, Chair of the Horticap Board, said: “This award is a reflection of the hard work of all our staff and volunteers, it’s a fantastic achievement.” Nodding in agreement, Brenda Andrews, an instructor at Horticap, added: “They all work so hard.”
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who was also in attendance, said: “I think these awards are fantastic. They celebrate so much work by so many people, all of which help to make our area a beautiful place to live. In many cases there are unsung heroes and it’s great to see them get some recognition.”
Angela Henson, the Secretary of the Harrogate in Bloom Committee, was awarded the Mayor’s trophy. She said: “It is very important at getting all sorts of people from across the town together, showing we can work together; from young people to older people – people who enjoy looking at gardens and people who enjoy gardening can come together and just enjoy sharing what they do. It’s a good chance to be sharing in people’s joy.”
The Deputy Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Christine Ryder, said: “These awards show that there are some amazing people in Harrogate. and we have such a strong sense of community here. It’s fantastic to see the expertise that everyone here has in what they do."
The Harrogate Homeless Project's Springboard garden was awarded silver gilt. Chief Executive of Harrogate Homeless Project Liz Hancock, said: "We are thrilled to have been placed in the Harrogate in Bloom awards – our Springboard garden is a testament to the commitment of our service users, who spend many hours tending the garden. We also received some help from the Princes Trust earlier in the year, who did a fantastic job of tidying things up. We have really seen the benefit of this special space, it is an area for reflection and calm and we have also noticed how tending the garden gives people a real boost and sense of purpose; for some it is the only access to nature they may have, and is a welcome distraction from the stresses homeless people face."
It was a great year for Northern Outfall, who won a string of awards, including the Edgar Scholey trophy for 'allotment best site'.
Fiona Walker, who won the Harrogate Borough Council trophy for Allotments Best Plot, at Northern Outfall, said: “The awards have been really good, it’s nice for everybody to come together. People don’t always realise how much effort people put into gardening so it’s great to be recognised.”
As the awards came to a close, Patrick Kilburn, Head of Parks and Open Spaces at Harrogate Borough Council, reflected on their success. He said: “I think the key thing for me is it is not just one person that makes the difference, it is about everybody’s hard work, talent and effort that makes Harrogate what it is.”
The full list of category trophy winners:
Apartments, Swan Court; Residential Homes Gardens, St Andrew's Police Treatment Centre; commercial and retail properties, AP & K Stothard and Sons; communal gardens, Woodlands Methodist Church Community Garden; front gardens, John and Julie Campbell; pubs and restaurants, Graveleys of Harrogate; hotels and guesthouses, Arden House; care homes activity, Hampden House; care homes dementia, The Crest; allotments best site, Northern Outfall; allotments best plot, Fiona Walker, Northern Outfall.
Others: Christine Dean Cup, Willow Tree School Larch Class; Hammond Mann Trophy, Hales Bar Secret Garden; Harrogate in Bloom Tankard for best allotment shed, Natalie and Glyn Cross; Harrogate in Bloom Shield, Friends of the Valley Gardens; Mayor’s Trophy, Angela Henson; McCrindle Trophy, Woodlands Methodist Church Community Bake Off - Nina Lancaster; Harrogate in Bloom President’s Award, Horticap; hotels unsung hero, Clifford Yeadon.