The best retirement gift for Bloom boss

BUSINESS Bloom boss Les English can bow out from his role in style after seeing the town crowned the cream of the crop.

The 79-year-old has led the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade’s Bloom efforts for the past 17 years, organising hanging baskets and planters for businesses throughout the town.

Earlier this year he announced that he would be retiring from the role, and he couldn’t have gone out at a higher level, having seen Morpeth take the Britain In Bloom Best Town title and Commercial Award.

“It has been a long, hard road and it has been frustrating and disappointing at times, but we have finally made it to the top,” he said.

“There are just so many people to thank. This hasn’t been about individuals, it has been a massive community involvement.

“I think there has been a better balance this year, with the baskets and work in different places like Bluebell Woods, Northumberland County Blind Association, the schools and the food they made. All these little bits have just pushed us over the top to get the Gold. It has been so hard to make the leap from Silver Gilt, but we’ve done it.

“It really surprised me to win the Best Commercial Centre for the whole of the British Isles. That is an unbelievable achievement, especially because you don’t enter that, it is something the judges decide.

“There has been an excellent working group that has worked well together for many years. The driving force has been Gillian Turner and the background staff.

“As for me, I’ve done this for 17 years so I think I need a rest.”

The chamber baskets have been made up and tended for the last four years by Raymond Dixon, from Flowers In The Square at Sanderson Arcade.

He said: “It is amazing to win the Commercial Award. It is outstanding to think that we are the best in Britain out of all the other shopping centres.

“It just proves that the hard work, not just by me, but by the whole chamber and arcade team and staff, has come together.

“Last year we got the Silver Gilt, this year we have gone one better and got the Gold. I don’t think we can do any better, but we will certainly try.”

Mr Dixon has also been responsible for the Sanderson Arcade displays.

Arcade Operations Supervisor Ian Stoker said: “The arcade as a whole has been getting some really good comments from people all year for the displays.

“The staff have really kept the place tidy and clean. You can see how hard the lads have worked for this and Ray has been out at four and five o’clock in the morning doing the watering.

“The herb garden we had for charity went down really well,

“It’s fantastic to get the Commericial Award. We’ll try something different next year, but the flowers will be just as good.”