Cumbria Crack

“Penrith in Bloom” Building civic pride

Penrith Business Improvement District

[P]eople who complain that community spirit is dead clearly haven’t been to Penrith. Having launched the ‘Penrith in Bloom’ Campaign in April, 2018,

Penrith Town Council, who are co-ordinating the town’s bid for national awards, is continuing to collaborate with local organisations, community groups and volunteers, who are striving to make Penrith a green, clean and pleasant town to live in, work and visit; and, of course to make sure the town excels in the large town category of the ‘Britain in Bloom Competition,’ 2018.

Success is definitely not assured, however, since Penrith is competing for awards against a great many other winners from other regional areas throughout England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Channel Islands, some of which have been featured on the recent BBC2 series covering villages, towns and cities, all competing for coveted awards in the competition.

However, Penrith is lucky to have a number of civic minded organisations, groups and residents with the will, knowledge and ability to meet the criteria outlined by Britain in Bloom under the headings of ‘Horticultural Achievement,’ ‘Environmental Responsibility’ and ‘Community Participation.

Penrith’s small army of community gardeners are again creating imaginative displays of blooms in public spaces in the town, among which are the peaceful Salvation Army Garden in Hunter Lane, the Stricklandgate roundabouts, Coronation Gardens and the British Legion Garden which is being dug out and replanted with lavender and wildflowers.

Penrith train station, which won a well-deserved Cumbria in Bloom award last year, is being revamped by the community gardeners too. The train station project, along with Great Dockray and the Community Poly Tunnel have been put forward for RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ awards. Thacka Nature Reserve has been put forward and Eden Valley Artistic Network (EVAN) are also hoping to be involved with decorative art installations around town. And the Penrith Allotments Association are very keen to showcase what they are achieving. Several other creative and heritage projects are also gearing up for the competition.

Many businesses in Penrith have tidied litter around their premises, and others have sponsored or contributed useful material. Local businesses can also help fund Bloom initiatives or provide staff volunteers to help in some of the local activities.

Residential as well as community gardens are an important part of the campaign, including front gardens in public view, communal areas, shared residential as well as communal spaces, allotments and the grounds of public buildings, including schools, town halls, libraries, community centres, churches and even car parks. Retail and shopping areas, bus terminals, local pubs, post offices, tourist attractions, verges parks, woodlands can be spruced up by the organisations who manage them. Even dull grey ‘grot spots’ can be taken on and loved a little by a good tidy-up or the addition of a few plants.

‘Penrith in Bloom’ is appealing to residents to take part too, even by tidying up front gardens, adding a few more blooms or just putting visually pleasing pots in bare spots, perhaps brightening a corner of a parking area.

The judges for Cumbria in Bloom will visit the town in July and the Britain in Bloom judges will arrive to do their judging over a 2.5 hour period on 7th August. They will be taken around a pre-set route showcasing projects that meet the judging criteria. It is unlikely the judges will have time to see everything that’s been done in the town, however, they will be given a verbal presentation and a comprehensive portfolio complete with photos and descriptions of everyone’s efforts.

Updates will be posted on the Penrith in Bloom Facebook page, @penrithinBloom, so please have a look, like and follow the page regularly. And feel free to post your picture of blooms or anything else relevant to the campaign. It’s all about pride in where you live. Penrith is your town, so, get involved in as many ways as possible.

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