Incredible feeling as towns scoop awards

A CLEAN SWEEP: Members of the Halstead in Bloom committee with town councillors and supporters.
A CLEAN SWEEP: Members of the Halstead in Bloom committee with town councillors and supporters.
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Jubilation greeted the announcement of this year’s Anglia in Bloom results with Halstead and Sudbury both triumphing.

For Halstead, it was a case of celebrating the town’s continued dominance in the floral competition as it was once again presented with the Anglia in Bloom trophy for the best overall entry.

Sudbury – the perennial bridesmaid – finally achieved the gold award for its horticultural efforts – following more than a decade of waiting and a string of silver gilts.

Michael Portway, who was chairman of Halstead in Bloom committee for 12 years and is now honorary president, said the rewards for the town, including winning the best town category and getting the gold standard, had been hard-earned.

“It is quite incredible and I am so pleased because everyone has worked so hard,” he said. “We expected to get gold, but you can never expect the other two.”

By comparison, few in Sudbury anticipated the top award, with chairman Nick Irwin playing down the town’s chances when judges visited in July.

“It is a surprise, because the criteria can be more suited to others,” said Mr Irwin after the results were revealed during a ceremony in St Albans on Tuesday.

“I am very pleased as we have worked so hard on the infrastructure and being sustainable.”

The last time Sudbury walked away with gold was in 2001 and the years of near misses were soon forgotten this time around as Belle Vue Park was also named best public open space.

“A small group of volunteers have worked tirelessly,” said Mr Irwin. “This year was like the year we last won as everyone came together.

“I think the judges were impressed by that and the general high standard in the town, which looked as good as it has for a long time.”

Halstead, which claimed the best overall prize last year, will now turn its attentions to the contest’s Champion of Champions section. Judging took place in August and results will be known early next month.

“That is the really big one,” said Mr Portway, who helped set up the in bloom committee in 1999. “It is unknown territory.”

Anglia in Bloom chairman Bob Ollier praised the town’s achievements in winning the best entry title, but added that others were closing the gap.