Farnham has fought off high-profile competition to prove it has what it takes to win gold in Britain in Bloom and to be declared best town / city centre in the UK. 

Farnham Town Council received news of the award on Friday (25 October) at an awards ceremony in London hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which runs the annual competition.

The gold award in the Business improvement districts, town centres and city centres category is evidence that Farnham in Bloom is about so much more than flowers. As well as horticultural achievement, the judges looked for environmental best practice and In Bloom’s impact on the community. 

In their report, the judges described Farnham as ‘an innovative floral town that boasted an eclectic mix of many plants’. Farnham Town Council came in for praise for its use of electric and compressed natural gas vehicles and the judges noted how ‘pride for the heritage of the town was evident at every point of the [their] tour’ and that the ‘town’s built environment was excellent and the standard of properties, both commercial and residential, was very high’.

The community plays a significant role in Farnham in Bloom and this was commented on by the judges. They observed that the ‘judging tour was conducted through a spotless townscape’ and that the town’s Bloomin’ litter pickers show ‘what a difference volunteer effort can make’.

The Mayor of Farnham, Councillor Pat Evans was at the awards ceremony and said: “Words cannot describe how proud I am that Farnham has won not only gold but has also been awarded best in category. This is such a massive achievement for Farnham. It was only a short time ago that we were celebrating an enviable collection of awards from South and South East in Bloom. For Farnham in Bloom to be recognised at national level too is the icing on the cake. 

“What the judges saw on their visit is the result of thousands of hours of planning, community spirit and hard work with wholehearted commitment from every corner of the town and surrounding villages. From schoolchildren who planted bulbs, to our litter pickers, people who watered and weeded throughout the summer and to all our sponsors: a massive: well done and thank you.”   

Farnham Town Council and the Farnham in Bloom Community Group have been on tenterhooks since the judges’ visit in July. In their 3.5 hour visit, the panel met several of the community groups, volunteers and schoolchildren involved in making Farnham bloom. They were given a tour of the key locations in Farnham and heard from sponsors and organisers about how the In Bloom competitions enhance the community and local area. 

The Mayor’s charity space2grow left a lasting impression on the judges. They commented that: ‘The examples of cross-generation support in the pursuit of mental health and physical wellbeing was humbling and this was a significant memory the judges took away from Farnham’.

This year’s principal sponsor, The Farnham Institute Charity, was joined by dozens of other local businesses in providing the financial support and sponsorship in kind that enables Farnham Town Council to put in place the range and scale of In Bloom activities. 

Andrew Lodge, Chairman of Trustees at The Farnham Institute Charity says: “We are thrilled that Farnham has won gold in Britain in Bloom. The flowers in the town centre and surrounding villages have looked fantastic this year. So many people get involved in Farnham in Bloom because it is accessible to all age groups and appeals to a wide range of interests – I think this is what makes it so appealing and successful as a community initiative.” 

Britain in Bloom is renowned for its exceedingly high standards. Entry is by invitation only from the RHS and this is the third time Farnham has been given that honour. Farnham was entered into the Business improvement districts, town centres and city centres category, which saw it competing against locations such as Bath and London’s Canary Wharf. Farnham has improved from being joint best in category in 2017 to outright winner in 2019. 

With the judging process now complete and the local Farnham in Bloom awards having taken place earlier in October, Farnham Town Council is already planning for 2020 and the 30th anniversary of Farnham in Bloom. Anybody who is interested in getting involved, can register their interest by emailing bloom@farnham.gov.uk.

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