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Forres In Bloom win Gold Medal and Community Horticulture accolades in Beautiful Scotland Awards 2021

By Garry McCartney

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Forres In Bloom volunteers at their display outside St Laurence Church.
Forres In Bloom volunteers at their display outside St Laurence Church.

THE TOWN'S most recognised volunteers are celebrating more national competition wins.

Forres In Bloom (FIB) has earned a Gold Medal in the 'Medium Town' category in the Beautiful Scotland Awards for the third time in four years - last year's event was cancelled due to pandemic restrictions - as well as a Community Horticulture Award.

FIB secretary Sandra Maclennan is thrilled with the wins she believes were just reward for the ongoing efforts of the community.

She said: "We are very pleased to have retained a Gold Medal during these trying times. We have tried hard to maintain our high standards and many people have thanked and congratulated us while we've been working round the town."

She added: "The Community Horticulture Award is largely down to our plants man extraordinaries, Bob Davidson!"

The Community Horticulture Award was one of 13 discretionary awards presented to the entrant that has maintained high standards of horticulture. Forres in Bloom has taken on more responsibilities as council resources for horticultural displays have diminished. The group has extended the breadth of its work to include local children and more sustainable environmental practices. The award was jointly won with Burgh Beautiful Linlithgow.

Sandra pointed out that it is not only horticulture that is judged - the judging group were clearly impressed by a number of local projects they spoke to including: Sanquhar Working Group; Friends of Fields and Forest; Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust; Forres Academy Base; and Anderson's Primary School

She said: "We have to thank our partner groups for their input to the judges who toured the town on August 24. Grant Speed and the Forres Open Spaces team helped with advice and assistance too.

"Our volunteers have worked incredibly hard over the year to grow, nurture and plant the displays. It is a never ending task and all credit goes to them for their consistent enthusiasm and unstinted efforts.

"We are indebted to our honorary president, the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro and our patron, The Honourable Mark Laing, for their continued support.

"Our thanks also go to the businesses and residents who support our fundraising activities and contribute so generously to the funds which pay for our displays."

A group of FIB volunteers gathered at Forres Town Hall this afternoon (Thursday, September 23) to join the virtual Beautiful Scotland award ceremony via Zoom.

Sandra said: The awards ceremony was so exciting and cheers rang out when it was announced we had won the Community Horticulture Award. We have waited for it for a long time as it recognises the work of Bob who is at the greenhouses every day, before many of us are out of bed, producing and nurturing all the plants which adorn the town displays.

"It was also heartening to hear that the judges were so impressed by Barry Ashby and his solitary year round work in respect to his former colleagues and former servicemen at Forres War Memorial which has been awarded top prize in the Royal British Legion Scotland Awards."

Beautiful Scotland chief executive, Barry Fisher, said: "Beautiful Scotland provides us with such a wonderful opportunity to recognise all the voluntary work being done, and to celebrate with, and thank everyone who is keeping Scotland beautiful.

"I’d like to thank everyone involved with Forres in Bloom for all they do, and I’d encourage others to get involved next year and tap into the network which offers a wealth of support."

Since 1990, and with the motto ‘We Love Where We Live’, FIB has been working to create better and more sustainable environments across the Royal Burgh. As a result, and having won numerous national awards, the town is known throughout the UK for its floral displays.

However, the volunteers are not getting any younger and are in need of new blood.

Sandra said: "We are looking for more volunteers - please come and talk to us any Sunday between 11am and 4pm when we can discuss ways in which you can help.

"Our main concern in the future will be negotiating the lease of our nursery area at Grant Park from Moray Council.

"In any case, our work continues - there are summer displays to be composted and spring displays to be planted. The greenhouses and pots are to be cleaned and next year's plants to be started off."

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