HARD-WORKING community volunteers in Sandown have been awarded gold for the second year running in the South and South East in Bloom’s Small Coastal Town category.

Sandown’s entry was spearheaded by Sandown Green Town Volunteers, who the judges commended, "for the immense amount of time, hard work and dedication they put in to brighten up their coastal town".

They were praised for their upkeep of existing garden areas and their continued search for future projects to enhance the town, both horticulturally and environmentally.

It noted: "SGTVs understood that in a changing world new avenues need to be explored and have taken on board modern gardening trends and have moved planting away from the large formal gardens of old and incorporated herbaceous perennials, and ornamental grasses shrubs in their schemes to give year round structure and interest."

The work being undertaken by the Friends of Battery Gardens to breathe new life into the gardens and encourage wildlife was applauded, as were the improvements being made to areas along the Cliff Path, already attracting pollinators.

It was noted that throughout lockdown SGTVs continued to beach and litter-pick while taking their daily walks.

The South East in Bloom judges recognised that like many seaside areas, some hotels have fallen into disrepair, blighting towns.

They praised the artwork decorating the ugly sites — knitted artwork covering the barriers with woollen flowers, insects and abstract patterns, colourful ‘wheels’ created from abandoned hubcaps and flowers modelled from plastic bottles turning them into art galleries to distract from the urban blight.

The highest marks in the entry came from the environmental section where volunteers, guided and aided by ecological engineering specialists, Artecology, have created habitats for coastal loving plants and wildlife to flourish, with native plants allowed to self-seed.

Particular mention was made of Sandown Seedbank where planting has encouraged a build-up of sand akin to the former dunes that were once there, creating a habitat for native flora and fauna.

Artecology has also introduced Vertipools — artificial rock pools on groynes opposite Dinosaur Isle, with an area of the beach reserved for the use of school children as a science beach.

On their walkabout, the judges were shown residential and business floral frontages that enhance the town, and were introduced to some local residents and business owners whose hard work has delighted Sandown visitors and residents for many years.

The group also recently welcomed a visit from James Attrill, the Isle of Wight High Sheriff.