'Rejected' In Bloom group from Huby defies all odds and strikes gold

Gaynor Olding with volunteers. (1810021AM3)
Gaynor Olding with volunteers. (1810021AM3)

Winning an In Bloom award is a great triumph for any town or village, but Almscliffe Tennis and Bowling Club in Huby has faced a far bigger struggle than most to achieve gold.

Not for lack of effort, or due to any lack of volunteers - it’s because they’ve found themselves ineligible for not one, but two contests. First, Harrogate in Bloom told the club that they fall too far outside of their boundaries to enter.

Just some of the club's beautiful flowers.

Just some of the club's beautiful flowers.

Then, not to be defeated, the determined team then turned to Leeds in Bloom, with the club having a Leeds postcode - it all looked good until Leeds said they could only enter on a one-off basis, due to the club paying their taxes to Harrogate.

As it stands, the team is not eligible for Harrogate or Leeds In Bloom next year - but, amazingly, against all the odds, the club did manage to win gold in this year’s Leeds in Bloom contest, and that’s testament to all of their volunteers who pour so much time and effort into making the green spaces look as good as they do.

Gaynor Olding, secretary of the bowling section of the club, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won gold - a lot of hard work has gone into it, we are absolutely thrilled to bits. We are hopeful that Harrogate or Leeds might change their minds and let us enter next year.

“We consider ourselves part of Harrogate, and it would be nice to be a part of it.” Malcolm Grange, who headed up the club’s In Bloom entry, said: “We thought we might get a consolation of a commended, but to get a gold is really something.”

Chairman Chris Olding said: “We were a bit non-plussed when we heard we weren’t eligible for Harrogate. We very much feel that we are in limbo. We are very grateful to Leeds who let us enter their competition for this year.

“We earnestly hope that Harrogate will have a change of heart and extend their boundary by a few hundred metres to allow us to participate next year.”

The President of Harrogate in Bloom, Pam Grant, said: “We have to be very careful not to impinge on other people’s areas. The club is well out of our area, and if we start expanding our boundaries, we would also be asked to include areas like Dacre, Darley and Summerbridge.

“And we don’t have the volunteer judges to cope with that. What we would suggest is that they start their own In Bloom group like Spofforth, Hampsthwaite and Darley, I think that would be brilliant. And we would give them assistance and support with this.

“It would be a real community achievement for Huby to have an In Bloom group. We just can’t extend our boundaries as it would be the start of something that could create havoc. We are not going down that route.”