TWO green-fingered community groups are counting down until they represent the borough in one of Britain’s biggest horticultural contests.
Teams of gardeners and volunteers from Shevington and Howe Bridge will take part in the national final of Britain in Bloom in October.
Shevington and District in Bloom and The Bridgers community group booked their place on the national stage after being nominated by the judges at last year’s North West in Bloom awards, where the groups took overall wins in the best town and best urban community categories respectively.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which organises Britain in Bloom, has announced its teams of eagle-eyed judges will be touring the competing communities in July and August, scoring a wide range of areas including recycling, wildlife conservation and community involvement.
The two Wigan finalists will also be encouraging the borough to get behind their bids for glory at a pair of launch events, which will take place in April.
Shevington and District in Bloom co-ordinator Margaret Carter said: “A couple of us recently travelled up to a seminar with representatives from Howe Bridge for the RHS to explain what we needed to do. “It’s clearly stricter than the North West finals, it’s the next step up and we know we will have to work hard if we are going to do well.
“The launch event is going to be something we haven’t done before, but we’ve got a few ideas and it’s going to be like a mini-fete.”
Groups taking part in this year’s Britain in Bloom can also try to mark the 50th anniversary of the competition with their displays and include the theme of growing for pollination.
The Bridgers chairman Terry Daly said: “To be nominated to represent the North West is the pinnacle of all our previous achievements, and I’m quietly confident us and Shevington will deliver two very strong bids.
“We’ve got lots of ideas and a few new projects for this year. We’ve been working at Guest Fold on some community nurseries and allotments, and there will be more new displays on Collier’s Corner.
“We’re also in the process of updating our QR heritage trail so you will be able to scan some of the historic sights and listen to audio descriptions of them.”
Shevington and District will compete against Bridgnorth, Dalton with Newton, Henley on Thames, Immingham, Linlithgow, Thornbury and Halstead for the town prize, while Howe Bridge will hope to beat entrants from Middlesborough, Leicester, Leeds, Southwark, Portishead and Norwich to the urban community award.
The Britain in Bloom finals will take place in Bristol in October, with a total of 72 entrants hoping to land one of the 12 national prizes.
Stephanie Eynon, RHS community horticulture manager, said: “This is a really special year to be an RHS Britain in Bloom UK finalist because it’s the 50th anniversary of the campaign.
“We would like to congratulate every group for reaching the finals of RHS Britain in Bloom but of course it’s not about beating fellow finalists, it’s about volunteers of all ages and walks of life gaining recognition for their extraordinary efforts to improve streets and neighbourhoods in towns, villages and cities across Britain.”