Double success for Scottish team
30 September 2010
A Britain in Bloom team led by just 13 volunteers has scooped the Champion of Champions' Award for the second year running.
Winning this top accolade just once is no easy feat, but doing it two years' running is an outstanding achievement. National judge Susan Smith, described the displays as "heart-stopping". ‘You get used to some pretty high standards when judging this category” she said, “but what I saw in Falkland just blew me away."
From modest beginnings, Falkland in Bloom has achieved incredible heights. The group started out in 1987 as a small band of volunteers who wanted to improve the local area. With a grant from Fife council, they began with the purchase of a few planters and baskets to display around the town. Twenty-four years later, they’re growing 60,000 flowering plants annually, which appear across Falkland, and investing over 3,000 volunteer hours a year.
Led by just 13 dedicated volunteers – but with a far broader base of seasonal helpers – Falkland in Bloom’s impact is far reaching: locals and visitors alike are full of praise for the displays, and the flowers are credited with increasing tourist numbers to the area, boosting the local economy.
The group’s work stretches across the whole community, encompassing businesses, local schools and community groups. Sugar Acre nursery, the nerve centre of Falkland in Bloom with its polytunnels, beds, borders, vegetable plots and wildlife garden, is shared with several local charities and environmental partners, and school children are regular visitors.
“We run activity days where the children come and learn about how to grow plants” says Bert Allan, the group’s Secretary, “They’re involved every step of the way: they help us sow the seeds; watch the plants grow; and then help us plant everything out when it’s ready”.
The group has recently enlisted the support of school children to create a new wildflower meadow, sowing seeds and creating plugs for young plants. Their efforts to engage youngsters have not gone unnoticed: the group picked up last year’s RHS Britain in Bloom Young People’s Discretionary Award.
Fundraising is done largely through selling surplus plants raised at Sugar Acre: in excess of £6,000 was generated in 2010, along with significant sponsorship of hanging baskets.
Visiting RHS Britain in Bloom national judge, Susan Smith, was full of praise, “The excellent quality of the hanging baskets and containers and the well-chosen variety of colour themes, coupled with a heart-stopping, truly superb floral display in Horse Market Street; it was fantastic and fully deserving of this award.”
In future, the group hopes to increase the numbers volunteers, developing partnerships with external organisations and social enterprises.
- The Champion of Champions category was first created in 2004 to recognise consistently excellent entrants: sustained Gold award achievers, chosen by the national judges as representing the very best of Bloom.