Fog strands bloom team

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MORPETH has claimed another Silver Gilt award in Britain In Bloom, but missed out on a national title.

And there was some unexpected drama following the prize-giving ceremony when the Morpeth team was stranded on Guernsey.

All flights from the island were cancelled on Monday due to heavy fog, leaving hundreds of bloom delegates, including the Morpeth representatives, unable to get home.

Luckily the four-strong team of Morpeth Town Council’s Gillian Turner, Mayor Mark Horton, Chamber of Trade member Les English and Northumberland County Council representative Terry Garnick managed to find accommodation for the night and caught the only flight off the island on Tuesday.

Ms Turner said; “It was bitterly disappointing not to win and we felt sure we would get a Gold medal this time. If we had won and been stranded on Guernsey it wouldn’t be so bad.”

Morpeth went to the national finals as the Champion of Champions in the Northumbria competition after claiming a Gold award and Best Town title for the seventh year running.

But when the prizes were dished out by TV presenter Matt Baker on Saturday, it was beaten to the Town title by Halstead in Anglia.

Morpeth Town Council Office Manager Stevie Matthews said: “In Olympic year we have again been pipped at the post, having been a Best Town finalist on three previous occasions.

“But Morpeth has not lost out — to have achieved the honour of being an entry with the Best of the Best is a great reward to our community, who have always rallied so readily to take part each year in the regional competition.

“This year we succeeded in being outright winner of Northumbria and our joy and pride is not diminished by not taking home another trophy.

“The event brings everyone together with enthusiasm and determination to keep Morpeth a beautiful town to live in and visit. This never diminishes and we will be back with more projects next year.”

More than 1,200 communities entered the RHS competition and Morpeth was just one of 72 finalists chosen to represent their region on the national stage.

Judges looked at three key criteria – horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.

The Morpeth entry is led by Morpeth Town Council, Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, Northumberland County Council and Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre, with the support of numerous volunteers and community groups.

Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon said: “We are obviously disappointed that we didn’t win the major prize, but it was a fantastic effort by everybody and they should be congratulated for what we have achieved. Even to be nominated is winning in itself, but to get what we did was fantastic.

“It was a real town effort and of course we have to praise Les English for all the work he did.

“We get comments all the time from people saying how wonderful the town looks. The public really do appreciate it.”