Newbury College has been crowned the winner of the Schools and Colleges category at the Newbury in Bloom 2023 awards, a testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and students.
The esteemed judging panel, which included ex-Mayors of Newbury and current West Berkshire Councillors, Billy Drummond and Martha Vickers, Parks and Open Spaces Supervisor James Heasman, and volunteer Samantha Carpenter, visited the college in June. Their tour spanned over an hour, during which they meticulously examined various areas of the college garden, including the front entrance, The Restaurant's exterior, and the Remembrance Garden.
A highlight of their visit was the display of before and after photos. The transformation showcased in these images and the evident involvement of numerous staff and students left a lasting impression on the judges.
Newbury College project organiser, Jane West, said “[the judges] were particularly impressed by the number of staff and students who had contributed to the garden, and they recognised the huge amount of work which had been done. Thank you all. This is only possible because of your support". Jane's green fingers are well known around the College, where she is often found providing helpful advice to her colleagues, bringing their office plants back to life and displaying flowers from her garden in the main reception. Outside of college, she is the Show Secretary for the Bucklebury and Marlston Horticultural Society, a social club for gardeners that has been established for over 100 years.
The awards ceremony, held at the Corn Exchange, Newbury on 14 September 2023, was a grand affair. With a total of 38 entries spanning eight categories, the competition was fierce. The Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Nigel Foot, graced the occasion, presenting the awards alongside the sponsors. Winners were bestowed with a unique fork and trowel set, intricately burn-etched by local pyrography artist Naomi Lunn. Additionally, they received a certificate and a prize from the category sponsors.
Representatives from Newbury College - Jane West, Sue McDougall, Angela Young, Maria Corcoran and Marisa Piper; attended the prestigious event that was not just a celebration of the town's horticultural achievements but also a nod to its environmental efforts. The Green Flag status awarded to both Victoria Park and City Recreation Ground earlier this year was highlighted. These awards, given by the Green Flag Award Scheme, signify that both parks meet the highest environmental standards, are well-maintained, and offer top-tier visitor facilities.
Cllr Gary Norman, Leader of the Council, expressed his pride in the town's achievements. "I am sure we can all agree that Newbury looks spectacular throughout the year, and it’s great to see so many people putting in that extra effort and showing what can be done to enhance our town for everyone to enjoy," he remarked. He further added, "Together with our recent ‘Green Flag’ awards for both Victoria Park and City Recreation Ground we can all be proud to live and work in Newbury. I would like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Newbury in Bloom campaign and thank the Corn Exchange, Newbury and all of our sponsors for their invaluable support in making the awards such a success."