THE Wight in Bloom awards were held yesterday (Tuesday), where prizes for the Isle of Wight's best gardens were presented by gardening guru and television presenter Alan Titchmarsh.

The competition patron said: "Wight In Bloom reminds me of the garden Isle — it brings out the best in people, and the Island buzzes. It's important we all cherish our surroundings."

The awards ceremony was held at sponsor Liz Earle's Ryde headquarters, and the winners announced by Alan and Visit Isle of Wight chair, Ian Griffiths.

Prizes were presented for the best gardens, with categories for businesses, youth and community groups.

Winners received framed certificates, free bus travel from sponsor Southern Vectis and a Liz Earle goody bag

Richard Tyldsley, Southern Vectis general manager, said: "We're delighted to be this year's main sponsor as a green bus company, and help promote the Island as a great place to visit."

Will Myles, Visit Isle of Wight managing director, said the competition had been brought forward this year, so summer visitors could see the winning gardens.

Speakers at the event included Ian Boyd, from ARC Consulting, who spoke about the Island's recently-awarded UNESCO biosphere status, and Bobby Locke, from the Community Rail Partnership. She spoke about Island schools taking part in the 'line in bloom' project, to plant flowers at railway stations.

Dover Park Primary School was highly commended with its entry, and nine pupils from Broadlea Primary School collected the winning trophy, with headteacher Sharon Freeley, and Emma Millard, teaching assistant.

The children had worked on their train-shaped planter project outside the school, painting it and planting flowers such as lavender, marigolds and roses.

They said they were excited to meet Alan Titchmarsh as he was 'really famous.'

Francis Brett, 90, of Binstead, was named the overall winner and awarded the Peggy Jarman Trophy.

He said: "I didn't expect to win. I'm so pleased, but I couldn't do it without my daughter, Julie, who helps me cut the grass."

Wight In Bloom 2019 winners:

Best small front garden, highly commended — Mr and Mrs Mycroft, Bembridge; runner-up — John Cavanagh, Ryde; winner — Sandy Crump, Newport; best large front garden, highly commended — Celia Williams, Bembridge; runner-up — Linda Maclennan, Alverstone; winner — Francis Brett, Binstead; best small tourist attraction garden, highly commended — Rylstone Gardens, Shanklin; runner-up — Farringford Estate Gardens; winner — Mottistone Gardens; best large tourist attraction garden, highly commended — Needles Landmark Attraction Park; runner-up — Princess Beatrice Garden, Carisbrooke Castle; winner — Robin Hill Country Park; best small commercial garden, highly commended — Carlton Hotel, Shanklin; runner-up — Havelock Hotel, Shanklin; winner — The Clifton, Shanklin; best large commercial garden, highly commended — Bembridge Coast Hotel; tied-winners — The Royal Hotel, Ventnor, and Haven Hall, Shanklin; pride of place, highly commended — Valerie Zurcher, Cockerall Rise, East Cowes; runner-up — Sandown Garden Town Volunteers, Eastern Gardens; winner — Bembridge Parish Council, Bembridge War Memorial Gardens; best young people initiative, highly commended — Lucas Richards, Nettlestone; runner-up — Haylands Primary School, Ryde; winner — St George's School, Newport; best edible garden, highly commended — Richard Ridley, Lake; runner-up — Glenn Martin, Whitwell; winner — Keith Bloomfield, Quarry Road Allotments, Ryde; best container garden, highly commended — Geraldine Furmidge, Newport; runner-up — Michael Tyler, Newport; winner — Mr and Mrs Smallman, Shanklin; best care giving complex garden, highly commended — Mountbatten Hospice; Newport, runner-up — Knights Court, Ventnor; winner — Clifton House, Cowes; hidden gem award — Jeane Minx, Ventnor; line in bloom award, highly commended — Dover Park Primary School; winner — Broadlea Primary School; overall winner — Francis Brett, Binstead.

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