Britain in Bloom: Loughborough and Market Bosworth win gold awards in Royal Horticultural Society contest
They battled buckets of rain, cool temperatures and less sunshine than normal this summer – but the hard work of gardeners has paid off.
Loughborough and Market Bosworth won gold awards in the Britain in Bloom competition, run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
They also both triumphed in their categories, with Loughborough taking the top prize for a small city and Market Bosworth being named the best large village.
Loughborough added a discretionary award for community involvement in the contest.
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It was the first time Loughborough had been in the Britain in Bloom finals.
Judge Jim Goodwin said: "As a first-time entry into the Britain in Bloom UK finals, the community of Loughborough is to be congratulated on an excellent all-round standard of achievement.
"The benefits which the campaign is bringing to the town and the difference this is making to the quality of life of the residents is evident for all to see."
Andy Rush, chairman of Loughborough in Bloom, said the town's success in the contest was "staggering".
"I find it very hard to take in, but at the same time it is a worthy testament and reward for all the hard work carried out by everyone involved with Loughborough in Bloom," he said.
"It has been a real community effort, which virtually started with nothing, but which continues to grow each year, thanks to the work of people from all walks of life in the town."
Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan said: "Not only have they improved our environment, they have got so many different parts of our community involved in such a positive way."
Andrew Jackson, an RHS judge, said the Bloom campaign in Market Bosworth attracted visitors to the area, who in turn supported businesses.
"From the moment you arrive, you cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer volume and quality of its floral displays," he said.
"The Bloom group is to be congratulated on producing an entry which combines excellent active community support and very high horticultural standards. The pride in the village and commitment of all involved is first-class."
Bosworth in Bloom chairman Chris Hooker said: "It's a fantastic result.
"For us to achieve this award is quite something for the village and is due to the efforts of the committee.
We have 80 to 90 occasional volunteers from groups such as the Women's Institute and Rotary which take it in turns with watering and dead-heading."
He said the group also received support from the parish and borough council and the business community.
"It was a tremendous effort and in one way or another the whole village makes a contribution," he said.
More than 1,200 UK communities took part in the competition.
The ceremony was hosted by BBC TV presenter Matt Baker on Guernsey on Saturday.