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Hundreds of green-fingered volunteers are celebrating after Wigan Borough was awarded a Silver Gilt at the RHS Britain in Bloom awards.
The borough was nominated in the "Large City” category and was awarded the second highest prize possible. The Silver Gilt means Wigan Borough’s entry was judged to have met the criteria and objectives of Britain in Bloom and have sections of an exceptionally high standard. The award is given to entries considered to have the potential to be gold medal winners in the future.
Cllr Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council cabinet member for the environment, says: "This is a great achievement for the people of Wigan Borough who have worked so hard to bring a bit of green to the places they live in. Just to get to the finalsand represent the North Westis a spectacular success, so to come away with this prize is fantastic.
"We congratulatethe winners and thank the judges for their kind words. In Bloom has been a wonderful experienceand a great opportunity to showcase theboroughin a different light.
"This has been a community project from the start and the award is a tribute to the many schools, residents’ groups and individuals who have worked so hard to make Wigan borough bloom.”
Wigan was chosen to represent the region after sweeping the board at the North West in Bloom awards last year. The borough picked up a record 17 awards at the regional competition.
The entry was part of a campaign to promote the area’s greenery. Many people are surprised to learn that two-thirds of Wigan Borough is green space, which includes twenty-two parcels of ancient woodland and seventeen managed parks.
John O’Neill, Wigan in Bloom champion and former deputy council leader, said: "Wigan Borough in Bloom volunteers have made a real difference by working with the council planting thousands of new trees and flowers, creating public art, producing eco-projects and a great deal else besides. I can’t thank people enough, and being able to represent the North West is the best way to recognise those efforts which now enable people to think of Wigan Borough as the green and environmentally aware place we know it is.
"It is two thirds countryside, we have ancient mosslands, woods, lakes and wildlife including deer, bitterns and red squirrels – and the difference that In Bloom continues to make to our urban areas is something I know our residents, shoppers and visitors all really appreciate. Thank you and I congratulate the overall champions.”
Among the community projects part of the Wigan Borough in Bloom bid were an allotment scheme at St. Peter’s Church of England Primary School in Hindley, Town Green in Ashton-in-Makerfield and the work of the Friends of Hindley Station.
As the bid has been community led, it has proved a cost-effective and hugely valuable way of improvingenvironments,getting people outdoorsandencouraging community cohesion. The media interest in the competition has already given Wigan Borough coverage in the national and regional press, showcasingthe attraction of the borough to potential investors.