STROUD Town Council's offices were bursting with floral fanatics last Tuesday as competitors and friends turned up for the annual Stroud in Bloom awards.

Gardeners and organisers were welcomed by mayor Kevin Cranston over a glass of wine and thanked for their efforts in making the town attractive, tidy and colourful. The manager of Homebase, Nigel Baker, also attended as sponsor of the main prizes.

For their individual gardens Don Briggs and Malcolm Rodway shared the first prize of £100 worth of garden tools of their own choice, donated by Homebase with George Dickinson taking second and receiving a £20 voucher and Jean Merrett was awarded a £10 voucher for third. Leslie Alder was highly recommended.

Hamptons International and Downfield Hotel shared first place in the commercial and industrial category, with Prospect House on the Bath Road Trading Estate coming second and Stroud and Swindon Building Society's Russell Street branch taking third. Dudbridges was highly commended.

In the community category St Matthew's Court came first, Stroud Catholic Church second and the Salvation Army third. Holy Trinity Church was highly commended.

The Rosary School and Uplands Community School shared £50 worth of tokens donated by Homebase after winning the schools section.

Don Briggs was awarded the Stroud and Swindon Trophy for effort and determination for keeping his Merrywalks display in good repair despite repeated attacks by vandals.

Hamptons International were awarded the Chamber of Trade Cup for excellent all-round display while the residents of Hillier Close, Uplands, won the Wadworth 6X Trophy for an excellent community project which was commended by the Britain in Bloom judges.

Colin Baglin was awarded a rosebowl for an excellent year-round adopt-a-plot at Horns Road which has been planted and developed over many years.

The AGM followed the award ceremony, with co-chairman Sue Sutton reporting on a rewarding outcome in a year of changes, with Stroud winning a second Royal Horticultural Society silver-gilt award in the Britain in Bloom competition.

If Stroud is to go for gold next year, more volunteers are essential to help with planting, adopt-a-plots, clean-ups, and to fill a vacancy left on the committee, owing to Don Briggs' retirement.

Homebase has agreed to sponsor competition prizes again, but new sponsors are still needed for prizes and planting.

New ideas are being discussed by the committee for the coming year, with the Britain in Bloom neighbourhood award one possibility.

Gardeners are encouraged to start planning now for next year's displays, when the theme will be Peace, with rainbow colours.