Rugby sets the gold standard in Heart of England in Bloom
RUGBY has struck gold at the Heart of England in Bloom Awards.
The borough's gold run in the gardening contest now stretches to a baker's dozen, with the 'Growing for Gold' theme of Rugby's entry inspired by the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Like the Olympics, In Bloom was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and this year's traditional tour of the town by judges was cancelled in favour of a 'virtual' visit online.
Awarding Rugby gold in the 'small city' category, the judges praised the council for working in partnership with community organisations, volunteers and businesses for this year's In Bloom entry.
Staff at Rugby's railway station were congratulated by the judges after creating a floral Olympic stadium, while Rugby Rotary Club's ongoing work to transform a section of the Great Central Way was also singled out for praise.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust volunteers who tend to the nature reserve at Ashlawn Cutting and communities across the borough who backed the Great British Spring Clean were also highlighted in the judges' report.
The council's Park Connector Network was praised for its innovation, improving access to open spaces by creating a network of 'green' travel corridors, complete with eco-friendly, solar-powered 'Bat Hat' lights which reduce upward light pollution to minimise disruption to the feeding patterns of bats and other nocturnal species.
The judges also highlighted the council's RugBEE project, creating pollinator-friendly environments to support the needs of bees and other pollinating insects, and the floral displays, hanging baskets and planters in Caldecott Park and the town centre.
The report said: "The pandemic has shown how important parks, green spaces, bright flowers and nature areas are in the life of communities and individuals, and the Rugby in Bloom team have certainly gone the extra mile to enhance and promote these areas.
"A well-earned home grown gold once more."
The borough enjoyed further Heart of England In Bloom success, with the Friends of Dunchurch Society striking gold in the 'large village' category and Hillmorton taking a 'large village' silver.
Cllr Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing, said: "The borough's In Bloom success rewards the hard work of residents, volunteers, businesses, schools and community organisations who support Rugby's entry to the contest every year.
"Winning a 13th gold in a row in Heart of England Bloom despite the challenges posed by the pandemic makes this year's success all the sweeter, a tribute to our parks and grounds team's dedication during the most difficult of circumstances."