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Islington in Bloom 2017 winners announced as mayor beams: ‘People are taking so much pride in where they live’

PUBLISHED: 17:35 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 22 September 2017

Coltash Court gardeners. Back, from left: Sandra Heaney, Enrico Inazio Fontana and Linda Stokes, with David Hall (front). Picture: Polly Hancock

Coltash Court gardeners. Back, from left: Sandra Heaney, Enrico Inazio Fontana and Linda Stokes, with David Hall (front). Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Mayor of Islington Cllr Una O’Halloran can vouch for how important the annual Islington in Bloom ceremony is.

Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin receive their award from Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran. Picture: Keith Emmitt/Islington Council Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin receive their award from Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran. Picture: Keith Emmitt/Islington Council

Cllr O’Halloran, born and bred in the borough, recalls a time where Islington didn’t have so many thriving parks and community spaces.

It’s why she enjoyed presenting the Islington in Bloom gongs so much at the Assembly Hall on Thursday.

“I thought the night was lovely,” she told the Gazette afterwards, “because it was a celebration of people giving up their own time to make Islington look wonderful. I’m so pleased these awards are put on – it’s a great opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those people.

“I think back to when I was growing up, and lots of Islington’s green spaces were neglected. Now you see people all over the borough taking ownership, and taking pride in where they live.”

There were 200 entries for 19 categories, from best blooming pub or business to best front garden.

Copenhagen Primary School won silver in the 'best children's planting' category at Islington in Bloom. Pictured, children from the school with Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran, environment boss Cllr Claudia Webbe and deputy young mayor Tega Agbede. Picture: Keith Emmitt/Islington Council Copenhagen Primary School won silver in the 'best children's planting' category at Islington in Bloom. Pictured, children from the school with Islington mayor Cllr Una O'Halloran, environment boss Cllr Claudia Webbe and deputy young mayor Tega Agbede. Picture: Keith Emmitt/Islington Council

Islington has been chosen to represent London in next month’s Britain in Bloom, and Caledonian ward Cllr O’Halloran continued: “I’ll be honest: I’m quite shocked at the sheer number of nice gardens and community spaces you see. I’m really nosy, and I walk round the estate where I live and think: ‘You could all win Islington in Bloom.’

“I loved the container garden nominees, and Coltash [winner of the Gazette-sponsored “best estate”] is amazing. I’ve been there a few times and it’s like a secret garden.

“The more sponsors we can get in future years, the more we can do to encourage others to get involved. The council is suffering awful government cuts, and it does its best to look after our parks, but I think the community also has to help.”

Freightliners City Farm, in Sheringham Road, Holloway, was the proud recipient of best community garden.

Volunteer Louise Matlock said: “We love the idea of producing things to eat, and a garden that’s great to look at. We’re so pleased with the recognition as we’ve always been big supporters of Islington in Bloom.”

Islington in Bloom 2017: Freightliners City Farm won 'best community garden'. Picture: Islington Council Islington in Bloom 2017: Freightliners City Farm won 'best community garden'. Picture: Islington Council

Meanwhile, Highbury East won the new “best ward” category – in the same week as the Save Highbury Fields protest group launched legal action against the council over its policy allowing barbecues in the popular green space.

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Best estate: Coltash Court

After winning the “best estate” award for the second year in a row, Coltash Court volunteer Sandra Heaney shuddered at what might have been a decade ago.

The estate is in Whitecross Street, home of the famous market, and there were plans to put public toilets at the back of the block.

Coltash Court gardeners. From left: Enrico Inazio Fontana, Linda Stokes, David Hall and Sandra Heaney. Picture: Polly Hancock Coltash Court gardeners. From left: Enrico Inazio Fontana, Linda Stokes, David Hall and Sandra Heaney. Picture: Polly Hancock

But tenants kicked up stink and managed to get a garden, instead.

It’s taken a while, but is now thriving thanks to the hard work of Sandra, Linda Stokes and David Hall.

“We have got everything in there now,” she said after picking up the first prize – which was sponsored by the Gazette.

“It looks amazing. We have an olive tree, we grow grapes – it’s a beautiful garden.

“I think it’s important to give people a bit of greenery. It’s just big buildings around this area.

"I think back to when I was growing up, and lots of Islington’s green spaces were neglected. Now you see people all over the borough taking ownership, and taking pride in where they live"

Mayor of Islington Cllr Una O’Halloran

“To have somewhere like this makes a difference. We have balconies, but having a garden to enjoy is much better.”

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Best container garden: Darren Kirwin and Ramsay Ritchie

Darren Kirwin and Ramsay Ritchie had been trying to win the “best container garden” award for three years – and their hard work finally paid off on Thursday.

They have packed the tiny space in front of their house in Annette Road, Holloway, with plants and even a bee house.

Islington in Bloom 2017: Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin won 'best container garden' for their property in Annette Road, Holloway. Picture: Islington Council Islington in Bloom 2017: Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin won 'best container garden' for their property in Annette Road, Holloway. Picture: Islington Council

“It’s wonderful after three years of hard work,” Darren said. “Especially as we achieved it in the face of adversity – a couple of months ago, some vandals pulled up the plants and threw them out.”

Darren dedicated the gold prize to his late mum: “I’m a bit of a novice gardener, but my mum was really green fingered. Her gardens were beautiful.

“I’m a creative person as an art and design teacher, and this is another way of channelling that. My mum’s not here now, but she would be chuffed I got this.

“Every time I’m doing some gardening I think of her, and I’m sure she would be looking down on me saying: ‘Good on you, son.’”

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Full list of winners:

Best Street

1st – Dee Candlin

2nd – Hayley Robinson – Crayford Road Gardeners

3rd – Rachel Thomas & Boyd Crawford

Best Community Park

1st – Caledonian Park Friends Group

2nd – Penn Road Gardens

3rd – Barnard Park

Best Food Growing Area

1st – Frances Whitehouse – Pollard Close Allotment

2nd – Jos Boys – Highbury Quadrant

3rd – Arvon Road Community Garden – Arvon and Ronalds Road

Best Community Garden

1st – Freightliners City Farm

2nd – Culpeper Community Garden

3rd – King Henry’s Walk Garden

Best Forgotten Corner

1st – Luciana O’Flaherty

2nd – Cullinan Studio

3rd – Cynthia Locke

Best Blooming Pub or Business

1st – Stephen Mullin – The Shakespeare’s Head

2nd – Image tailors

3rd – Rebecca Eatough – Rotunda Bar and Restaurant

Best Tree Pits

1st – Cosima Davies

2nd – Catriona Oliphant

3rd – Pamela Berham

Best Community Centre Garden

1st – Heather Stabler – St Luke’s Community Centre

2nd – Jennifer Potter (Revd) – Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission

3rd – Carol Louvet – Holloway Neighbourhood Group Stress Project

Best Container Garden

1st – Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin

2nd – Eileen Carnell

3rd – Les Swan

Best Estate

1st – Coltash Court

2nd – 28/30 Elia Street

3rd – Quaker Estate TMO

Best Front Garden

1st – Michael Gorman

2nd – Abigail Hercules

3rd – Martin Leman

Best Residential Communal Garden

1st – Richard, Ilidio, Sarah and Dave – Forrest Court Estate

2nd – Bevin Court

3rd – Wedmore Estate

Best Children’s Planting

1st – Hargrave Park Primary School

2nd – Copenhagen Primary School

3rd – St Mark’s CE Primary School

Best entry in any category from a housing service resident

1st – Michael Gorman

2nd – Dee Candlin

3rd – Sandra Heaney

Best entry in any category from a Partners property resident

1st – Pamela Berham

2nd – Frances Fay Davies

3rd – Francis Carroll

Children’s Poster Competition

Under 5s – Zara Asraf, Highbury Quadrant Primary School

5 to 10 – Daniella Del Valle Silva, Highbury Quadrant Primary School

Over 10s – Shahida Kadir, Mount Carmel College

Overall winner – Daniella Del Valle Silva

Champion of Champions

Caledonian Park Friends Garden

Pattenden Award

King Henry’s Walk

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