Melrose is pick of the bunch again at Floral Gateway awards

Melrose in Bloom volunteers John Miller, Pam Rowlands, Val Miller and Owen Roalwnds.
Melrose in Bloom volunteers John Miller, Pam Rowlands, Val Miller and Owen Roalwnds.

Melrose has been named champion of champions after impressing judges at the 18th Floral Gateway awards, held at Scottish Borders Council’s headquarters last week.

The town was the pick of the crop among the 19 villages and towns taking part, each being judged not only on how colourful it is but also the cleanliness of its streets, community and school involvement and business support.

Reprenstatives from Melrose, Kelso, Birgham and Ayton with their champion of champion trophies.

Reprenstatives from Melrose, Kelso, Birgham and Ayton with their champion of champion trophies.

Once again, Melrose claimed the champion of champions title, this year finishing just three points ahead of Kelso in second place, and Birgham and Ayton shared third place.

Melrose in Bloom member Owen Rowlands said: “This is about the seventh time we’ve won the champions award. We had a splendid show this year, bright and colourful, and the town was very clean.”

The group, formed in 2002, has around 50 volunteers who help with daily watering of the town’s 120 planters and hanging baskets and a core of around 20 who meet every month to organise its work and events.

“The funding comes from the businesses in the town,” Owen added. “They each sponsor a basket or planter which pays for the upkeep and planting. We get very generous donations too so it’s very much a town effort.

Dog Friendly Newtown is rewarded.

Dog Friendly Newtown is rewarded.

“We are grateful for all the comments and kind words we get. We know the town appreciates our efforts, but it is always nice to hear people in the town taking an interest, making generous donations and always asking how we’re doing in the competitions.”

Hawick won the best large town category, while Coldstream picked up the title of best large village. Coldingham was named best small village, best wee village was Westruther and Lauder and Morebattle picked up clean and tidy awards.

Jedburgh lifted quality of life and welcome awards, while Newtown won its first quality of life award for its Dog-Friendly Newtown initiative.

Newtown and Eildon Community Council vice-chairman Raymond du Bois said: “Behind Dog-Friendly Newtown, there is this idea that Newtown St Boswells is a dog friendly village, possibly the first in Scotland.

SBC Floral Gateway Awards. Lauder - winner of the Clean and Tidy award and 2nd in the Large Village category.

SBC Floral Gateway Awards. Lauder - winner of the Clean and Tidy award and 2nd in the Large Village category.

“The primary aim is promoting responsible, enjoyable dog ownership. We want to see health, happy and well-behaved dogs in a clean village free of dog fouling.”

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, the regional council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and locality services, said: “Thanks to the new community awards introduced two years ago, Floral Gateway now acknowledges a much wider variety of volunteer groups doing their best to maintain and enhance the Borders.

“Well done to all participants but particularly Melrose, who thoroughly deserved the champion of champions award.

“On behalf of the council, I would like to thank all the entrants for helping make the Borders a beautiful place to live and visit and would encourage those communities not involved this year to enter in 2018.”

Each winner received vouchers towards their work while the Clean and Tidy award winners received a new litter and dog waste bin for their communities.

The full results were: large town – 1 Hawick, 2 Peebles, 3 Galashiels; large village – 1 Coldstream, 2 Lauder, 3 Chirnside; small village – 1 Coldingham, 2 Greenlaw, 3 Ancrum; wee village – 1 Westruther, 2 Morebattle, 3 Burnmouth; Border Biodiversity winner – Burnmouth; Clean and Tidy winners – Lauder and Morebattle; Quality of Life winners – Newtown St Boswells, Jedburgh and Coldstream; Welcome Award winners – Jedburgh.