Thanks to a blooming good effort, Sandown picked up the top spot in the Small Coastal Town category.
In spite of the unusual weather pattern and difficulties in finding watering facilities for the planters and troughs about the town, Sandown Green Town Volunteers produced a stunning floral display. Their refurbishment of ‘the boat bed’ in front of the Pier was particularly commended by judges. Their work was enhanced by the wonderful, life-enhancing, displays made in the frontages of local residents and businesses, which can still be seen today.
Christine Jackson of Sandown Green Town Volunteers, who spear-headed the entry, says:
“This competition is not all about floral displays. Judging was marked on horticulture (40%), environment (30%) and community (30%)”.
Thanks to the work of Arc and the Common Space, Sandown is especially strong environmentally with the Willow Walk behind Browns Golf Course and Science Beach, where vertipools are showcased. Particular mention was made by the judges of Sandown’s coastal rewilding such as the Sandown Seedbank and Culver Parade sea wall. Credit was given to future rewilding plans, such as the Bay CE School’s plans to introduce a wildflower meadow within the school grounds.
The judges were impressed by Sandown’s community spirit where they noted a diverse range of community initiatives grew in response to the demands of COVID-19, including the Gaslight Café’s ‘Meals on Wheels’ service and the free foodbank based in the train station courtyard during lockdown. Sandown Community Association’s extension of Sandown in Bloom to include a special category for local shops under the heading ‘The Power of Flowers’, designed to introduce a horticultural display in shop windows, was also noted. The ‘yarn bombing’ of derelict buildings and empty shops was called inspiring by judges.
The work of Sandown Forum, established in 1996, which is a regular meeting point for local voluntary, charity, community groups and churches for the exchange of information and mutual support, was also congratulated.
Ben Holbrook, Deputy Chair of Sandown Green Town Volunteers, has said congratulations is due to everyone who worked so hard to achieve a stunning result. He says:
“With the many redevelopment plans being talked about for the town, success in future years will depend on the Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council working closely with the community to build on this year’s achievement”.