Rory Stewart Penrith In Bloom

Rory met Louise Armstrong, of Penrith Community Gardeners, to wish the group luck ahead of the RHS Britain in Bloom judging on Friday, 2nd August.

Penrith has a strong history of excelling in both Cumbria in Bloom and Britain in Bloom awards. Last year in the Cumbria in Bloom awards, Penrith won Gold Awards in the ‘Best Large Town’ category and for the for the ‘Penrith Business Improvement District. It also won the most “Improved in the Year Award”, the ‘Best Sustainable Community’ award and was ‘Joint Winner in the ‘Best Overall Town & Urban Community’ Category. Proving that it really is a whole community effort, volunteers involved in the Penrith Poly Tunnel received ‘Britain in Bloom National Certificate of Distinction’ and there were individual awards for ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood Level 5: Outstanding’ for the Poly Tunnel Group, the Stricklandgate Community Garden Project, the Penrith Railway Station Environmental Enhancement Group, the Great Dockray Residents and Business group and Eden Mencap Society.

But as Mrs Armstrong explained to Mr Stewart, it’s not the awards or even the flowers which brighten up Penrith, but the people that matter most.

Mrs Armstrong said: “It’s not about the flowers, it’s about the commitment of the people and the community. Everyone always says, ‘Aren’t the flowers lovely?’. Well yes they are but they are not the main part of it. It’s the people who give their time freely and don’t ask for anything back.

“Britain in Bloom is not about the awards or flowers, it’s about the community – everybody getting together and learning off each other and helping each other.”

After the visit, Mr Stewart said: “The way these gardeners and volunteers have transformed areas of Penrith is brilliant but as Louise says, it is the people behind the work that are the real inspiration. The ongoing brightening up of Penrith every year really goes to show what can be achieved when people come together with a passion. I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers, various community groups, local businesses and town council for your hard work and drive. And wish them the very best of luck in the Britain in Bloom competition.”

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