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04.10.23 – Newcastle in Bloom Competition,

Written by on 4 October 2023

Gardens, school grounds, business premises, allotments, pubs, restaurants and B&Bs all blossomed this summer for the annual Newcastle in Bloom competition.

With a theme celebrating the Borough’s 850th anniversary this year, the worthy winners were announced at an awards ceremony staged at the New Vic Theatre.

Simon Tagg, Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The judges were thrilled by the standards they witnessed wherever they went.

“The hours of work, the labours of love and the beautiful results are a credit to everyone involved.

“I hope they’re very proud of their achievements, because we certainly are.”

Judging took place over several weeks from the end of June and the standard was high throughout. The winner were:

Best allotment: Ian and Emily Wilson were praised for their Basford plot, including planting to attract insects and wine-producing vines in a polytunnel.

Best vegetable plot: David Rhodes’s space at Park Road is teeming with a variety of potatoes, root vegetables, brassicae, leeks, beans, beets and pumpkins, and he received the award donated by The Acre Allotment Association, in memory of the late Granville Rushton, a former tenant.

Best Community Gardens: The Lyme Valley Allotment Society community garden was praised for the revamp of the greenhouse using recycled materials, the welcoming atmosphere and, in recognition of the 850 celebrations, the lifelike representation of King Henry II.

Best School: the young team at St John the Evangelist Academy in Kidsgrove not only impressed by their results, but with their underlying knowledge of horticulture and all things green.

Best Hanging Baskets: Vera and Graham Tagg decorate their garden with large numbers of immaculately-maintained flower-laden baskets, which are proof of their technical expertise.

Best licensed premises/business: The Old Hall, Madeley, was praised for its layout of ‘rooms’ complementing the historic buildings.

Best Private Garden: Maureen Wilson and Graham Green were praised by judges for their ‘exceptional’ garden in Kidsgrove, which contained “a surprise around every corner”. Highlights included water features fed by a huge rain-catching water tank, innovations to encourage wildlife and a 3D computer generated ‘850’ castle serving as a bug hotel.

Best Eco School: Despite standing on a challenging raised area, Keele University Day Nursery has created a wildlife area, bird boxes and accommodation for hedgehogs! A green roof for the nursery, small pond and forest learning area add to the equation.

The Outstanding Achievement Award in memory of former Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council employee Ros Bason, was given to Kidsgrove Care Solutions for the passion of Lisa and Pip, who are full of ideas and enthusiasm to involve adults and young people with disabilities.

The Special Feature Award in memory of competition supporter and competitor Alfred Birch was this year presented to the best recognition of the Borough’s 850th anniversary. Not only did The Lyme Valley Allotment Society community garden present King Henry II signing the original charter, but also appearing were Reginald Mitchell, a market stall representing The Stones, and Farmer Giles and a pig on their way to the cattle market.

The prize-giving was supported by sponsors Black Star Ceramics, who donated bespoke ‘Newcastle 850’ plant labels, while Garners Garden Centre and Jacksons Nurseries, Tea Room & Farm Shop donated spring bulbs and seeds.

Cllr Tagg added: “The breadth of entries again this year and their quality across the board is impressive.

“Not only does it improve the quality of life in local neighbourhoods but it makes a massive contribution when we enter the regional and national ‘in Bloom’ competitions.”


Lovers of poetry in Staffordshire are being invited to join in celebrations to commemorate 10 years of the Staffordshire Poet Laureate.

A special evening of poetry will be held at Stafford Library on National Poetry Day where the current Staffordshire Poet Laureate, Dawn Jutton, will be reading poems alongside previous laureates and looking back at their achievements over the years.

Dawn will also be announcing the new Young Poet Laureate on the night and paying tribute to the county’s very first laureate, Mal Dewhirst, who sadly passed away in 2021.

Mal was appointed to the role in 2013, along with the first Young Poet Laureate, Natalie Cotterill.  Since then, six poets have been appointed to the role, who have in turn, supported and mentored a further eight young people.

A rich and varied collection of poetic work has been developed over this time, including poetry, imagery and film, inspired by the diverse nature of the county’s landscape, heritage, people and places.

Libraries Chief at Staffordshire County Council, Victoria Wilson said: “This is a wonderful celebration of all our poets laureate and I’m still amazed at the wealth and breadth of what each of them have achieved over the last 10 years. The initiative has helped create and promote a real love of poetry across the county.  Over the years, many people have taken part in a diverse range of activities, at schools, in the community, at festivals, exhibitions and online.

“Bringing about this appreciation and enjoyment of poetry and creative writing to wider audiences is something for the county to be proud of and we are really look forward seeing what the next 10 years brings!”

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