Battle goes for gold in bloom competition

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BATTLE’S beautiful blooms came under the scrutiny of the South and South East In Bloom judges last week.

Judges Brian Stephens and Kevin Taitt arrived on Tuesday for a tour around the town.

And the pair, who both hail from Hampshire, appear to have liked what they saw.

Mr Stephens told the Observer: “We have had an enjoyable afternoon.

“All the people we have met have been very pleasant and we have enjoyed what we have seen, and the scarecrows.”

But he refused to be drawn on how the town scored, adding: “As for regards to marking, we have to keep that secret.”

Mr Taitt said the tour was “well organised” and said he thought there was a “feel good factor” throughout the town.

The judges seemed particularly impressed with the area around the Pilgrims Rest and the dry garden at Glengorse.

And they were also full of praise for the Battle Scarecrow Festival, singling out the ‘tin man’ at Alan Hunting Associates and the theatrical policeman as their favourites.

Mr Taitt said: “The scarecrows have added to the ambience of the tour.”

He added: “The volunteers who look after the individual areas have been doing very well.”

Battle will not know if it has managed to secure that elusive Gold award in the Best Small Town category until the results are revealed at an awards ceremony on September 7.

Alan Gavin, secretary of Beautiful Battle, said the town had been “well prepared” for the judges’ visit.

Mr Gavin said: “We have got a situation now where both the town council and Beautiful Battle are working in tandem, together and there is extremely good co-operation between the garden staff.

“The most difficult job was probably weeding the pavements around the town.

“The thing that caught us out slightly was it recently rained after a dry spell, then suddenly we were covered in weeds!”

Mr Gavin gave a presentation to the judges just before the tour and spoke about how the community has supported Beautiful Battle and how the organisation works closely with a number of businesses and societies around town.

He spoke about how the organisation had grown from humble beginnings to it’s current 160-strong membership.

Margaret Emeleus, the former chairman of Beautiful Battle, said of the judging: “I think it went pretty well.

“I think the planting schemes and the overall theme for the town has gone down extremely well.”

Battle Mayor Ron Harris said: “It gave me a great sense of pride in our town to show the South East In Bloom judges around Battle.

“The sun shone, everywhere was clean, tidy and weed free.

“The floral baskets, plants and beds were terrific and a great tribute to all the effort Beautiful Battle and the council’s three stalwart groundsmen, Gary, Adrian and Andrew, had put in to ensure Battle was at its best.

“Now we wait and hope the judges saw the town the same way we all see it - an ideal place to live.”

Next week the Battle In Bloom judges will be out and about in town to choose their favourite gardens and floral displays for the town’s annual competition.

The winners will be announced later this month.