A celebration of thousands of hours of volunteering and horticultural achievements took place at Squire’s Garden Centre in Badshot Lea, at the town council’s Farnham in Bloom Community Awards.

The best of the best were rewarded for their contribution to this year’s Britain in Bloom gold-medal winning entry, with awards presented to schools, allotment holders, local businesses and amateur gardeners.

Achievements in wildlife gardening were also recognised, as were the town’s army of volunteer litter pickers.

The Farnham in Bloom Community Group organised competitions throughout the year to encourage individual gardeners, organisations and businesses to get gardening in their outdoor spaces, including patios, hanging baskets, vegetable plots and gardens.

Among the winners were Donald Larby who won the gold award for the best front, back or small garden, Frank Rhodes whose display won the best container or hanging basket category and, in the public house category, The Lamb pub.

The gardens of community organisations such as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, space2grow and Hale Community Centre received praise too. Nine of Farnham’s gardening and conservation groups also received certificates of excellence from South and South East in Bloom judges (SSEiB).

The community awards and volunteer effort form the backbone of Farnham’s entry to Britain in Bloom and the regional South and South East in Bloom (SSEiB) competition.

Farnham won numerous prizes in SSEiB, including the best in category for a large town and for Badshot Lea Cemetery. In the Britain in Bloom competition, it was announced on Monday that Farnham had won gold.

There were special prizes for schools at the community awards ceremony.

“Schools play a vital role in the Farnham entry to Britain in Bloom and South and South East in Bloom,” said the mayor, Alan Earwaker.

“Children from nursery age up to teenagers contribute to Farnham in Bloom through their school gardens, wildlife gardens and competitions, like our ever popular tallest sunflower and biggest pumpkin contests.

“Getting youngsters gardening is great fun, complements their education and is an investment for future years.”

This year’s winner of the schools’ Bloomin’ Biodiversity award was Potters Gate Primary School while Rowledge School grew both the tallest sunflower and the biggest pumpkin.

The mayor added: “Congratulations to all the schools that won prizes in this year’s competition and thank you to all the children, parents and school staff who helped schools participate in Farnham in Bloom.”

The Community Awards, where the mayor was joined by sponsors, including principal sponsor The Patio Black Spot Removal Company Ltd, community representatives, volunteers and prize winners, mark the close of this year’s Farnham in Bloom activities. Plans for 2023 are already underway together with the call for more volunteers. Anybody who is interested in volunteering should email [email protected]