Friendship stories

Lesley Jelleyman (second from left) has been involved in Bloom since 1982

Lesley’s friendship story

Britain in Bloom has been part of National Judge Lesley Jelleyman’s life for more than 40 years. She explains what this nationwide community gardening competition means to her.

I’ve been involved in Britain in Bloom since 1982. I worked for Hackney Council Parks Department and I remember the ‘Plant a tree in ‘83’ campaign and showing a Britain in Bloom judge around Hackney Downs. I have always loved plants.

“The magic of something so beautiful being created from elements from the soil, sun and rain… magic.”

As the Bloom initiative developed and more aspects of environmental areas included, from cleanliness through to heritage and art in all its guises, I became even more passionate about Bloom. From preschool upwards, I was keen to include as many members of my community as I could. I organised events so that more individuals from as many areas as possible could get involved. Musicians, artists, crafters, dancers, actors and cooks, as well as gardeners could take part in as many events as they wanted.

When mentoring groups, I say it is better to have 100 people volunteer for an hour rather than 10 people for dozens of hours. Word spreads further and more people are inspired to improve and enhance their own spaces, as well as communal ones. The Bloom magic is demonstrated to those of us lucky enough to visit and assess these groups.

Lesley (third from left) and fellow judge Ruth Growney (second from left) visiting Redbourn in Bloom

Redbourn in Bloom scooped Gold and Small Town category winner in the 2023 UK Finals

“The passion, innovation and dedication to their village, town or city is an absolute privilege to see. Beautiful, inspiring and emotional, that is what Britain in Bloom is to me.”

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.