Wigtown’s blooming wonderful

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Wigtown in Bloom volunteers were celebrating recently after winning the Scottish Natural Heritage Biodiversity Award in addition to retaining their Silver Gilt medal at the Beautiful Scotland Awards.

Representatives from the volunteer group travelled to Motherwell to attend the prestigious awards ceremony, hosted by North Lanarkshire Council, and were left delighted when they learned of the group’s achievements.

Judges Keith Scrimgeour and Terry Stott, who visited the town in July, commented that although Wigtown is best known as Scotland’s National Booktown, it should be known for its beautiful town centre too. The highlights of their visit included the attractive planters at the entrance to the town, the many well maintained residential gardens, as well as the community involvement which is evident in projects such as the Wigtown Youth Garden Project, the Sensory Garden and the various initiatives at the school which Keith and Terry were both really impressed with.

However, the main attraction to the town they felt was the Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre in the County Buildings. They were particularly interested in the variety of work that goes on around the subject of biodiversity within the town, and this is credit to both Elizabeth Tindal of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ranger Service and the RSPB.

Commenting on the win, convener of the 2012 Wigtown in Bloom campaign, Betty McGowan said: “We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Motherwell and are grateful to both North Lanarkshire Council and Beautiful Scotland for their wonderful hospitality. The Silver Gilt award is a real achievement once again and down to the hard work of not only the volunteer group who have done an amazing job this year, but the residents of the town, without whose support this would not be possible. Unfortunately, we like many other towns and villages, fell victim to the weather this year and some of the displays didn’t look 100% but I’m delighted that the judges enjoyed their visit and were able to see the strong community spirit which exists within the town which is about much more than just floral displays.

“We were competing with 51 other towns and villages for awards and only five gold medals were awarded so we did really well to maintain our Silver Gilt and everyone should be pleased. Furthermore, winning the SNH Biodiversity Award was an additional bonus. Both the Ranger Service and RSPB do a lot for the community of Wigtown and I’m glad their work has finally been recognised through this award – they are a real asset to the Wigtown in Bloom campaign and should be proud.”

Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Beautiful Scotland, a campaign run by Keep Scotland Beautiful, celebrates the work of communities, from whole cities to villages, who pull together to improve and enhance their local areas. Through floral enhancement, community participation, and taking responsibility for tackling the criminal activity of littering and dog fouling, these Beautiful Scotland groups (Wigtown in Bloom; Moniaive Village and New Abbey Gardening Club) make a massive difference to Dumfries and Galloway, and our country.

“The awards presented at this ceremony go some way to recognising all the endless hours which volunteers and local authorities put in throughout the year to ensure that visitors and local community members are able to enjoy clean, green and sustainable surroundings.”