Newark under the spotlight today as East Midlands in Bloom judges arrive in town
Countless hours of hard work and love and effort for the community were being scrutinised today (Wednesday) as the judges of East Midlands in Bloom arrived in town.
Volunteers and staff from both the town and district councils have been sprucing up the town in recent days ahead of today's arrival of Bloom judges Peter Benham and Carl Beacock whose job it is to score Newark in the East Midlands in Bloom contest.
Royal Newark in Bloom achieved gold in its last entry into the competition, pre-pandemic, and is hoping to secure a similar accolade in a competition that promotes community and civic pride and achievement and can boost a town's reputation on a regional or national stage.
All of the stops were pulled out for the arrival of the eminent judges, including the laying on of some classic transport to ferry the gentlemen judges along the route — a cream Jaguar XJ6 that holds special memories for its selected driver.
The route picked by the Royal Newark in Bloom outing was designed to show the very best that Newark has to offer and extended to The Wharf, Newark Castle, the parish church, town hall and the market place, which holds a Royal charter, Hawton allotments, Sconce and Devon Park, including its fabled Queen's Sconce civil war earthen defence, and Millgate.
And, for the first time, a once neglected parcel of land next to Newark Library — where age-old trees were recently saved from the chop in a community action that meant green space didn't make way for an extension to London Road carpark — was included.
The vision for Library Gardens will be exclusively revealed publicly by the Advertiser in print and online tomorrow.
It was at a media meeting with the judges at the beautifully-maintained Newark Cemetery this morning, where the judges met members of the Friends of Newark Cemetery Group and heard about the service they run to unite the living with the graves of their ancestors, that Mr Beacock said that all was looking good thus far.
"It's a lovely day," said Mr Benham.
"I'm sure everybody has done their bit to impress. The Bloom competition is a labour of love and couldn't happen without a great many volunteers, and we are looking forward to seeing their hard work.
"Newark is right by the Trent, which is most attractive, with a lot of history, such as the castle."
He also talked about the importance of a local newspaper in promoting its community and highlighting the good work of the volunteers that goes into an East Midlands in Bloom entry. The judges were shown clippings from the Advertiser of the preparatory work for the entry that has been going on over recent months, and also pictures that the Advertiser has run taken by its readers that show areas of the town at their best.
Mr Beacock said: "I'm looking forward to seeing all of the history and heritage that Newark has to offer. At first sight, everything looks good so far."
Jonathan George, the treasurer of Royal Newark in Bloom, said: "This year we have really got involved with community groups such as providing funding for the Friends of Sconce and Devon Park and a donation to the Friends of Library Gardens.
"We're really looking forward to being able to show the judges Newark."
Royal Newark in Bloom has ten groups — Friends of the Cemetery, Friends of Library Gardens, Friends of the Allotments, Willow Holt, Friends of The Sconce, Millgate Preservation Society, Friends of The Castle, Friends of The Wharf including The Castle Rotarians, Members of the Congregation Church Gardens and Newark’s Royal Market Place and Town Hall.
121 hanging baskets have been sponsored by businesses around town to make the town decorative.
The group has also been represented at community events such as senior citizen fairs and tree-plantings to promote its part in Britain in Bloom, the nationwide gardening scheme, and has kept the community involved and engaged through its Facebook page.
Martin Chapman, chosen to drive the Jaguar, was reunited with a car that was his wedding car in 1998 and that his daughter will use as her's in four weeks time, describing it as a lovely moment.
The results of the judging will be known on September 21.