Altrincham is a triple gold award-winning town with top honours awarded in 2014, 2015 and 2016 from North West In Bloom. In 2016, the town was nominated for entry into the Britain in Bloom UK Finals for 2017 - a huge honour and rather daunting opportunity!
The town's campaign theme for 2016 was 'Best of British'. It was about celebrating our strengths, being proud of who and what we are.
Our community planter scheme reflected a wide variety of interpretations of this theme and that is the beauty of it. Our custodians who are a mixture of Altrincham community groups and businesses demonstrated fantastic creativity and produced 22 colourful and attractive planters in our town centre.
Our artistic partners, Art With A Heart, took our theme and developed a number of window displays to celebrate Great British authors including William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll. The windows alongside Travelodge on Stamford New Road included artistic contributions items from Art With A Heart volunteers along with decorations from Vintage Angel and FabLab Altrincham. Collaborative window displays were also found at Marco Pani Hairdressing, Izzy Barbers and Santander. Volunteers also produced three 'cheeky bum' planters made from embellished shorts on railings outside Altrincham Interchange to celebrate Great British fashion designers.
In 2015/16, we completed the Four Seasons walkway and transformed Shaw's Green into a place to encourage residents, young and old, to grow their own food. The project included a lesson for primary school children and the produce from our fruit, vegetable and herb planting was sold to help sustain Altrincham In Bloom projects.
During the year, we also improved the corner of Lloyd Street and Armitage Road which was in a state of neglect. We contacted Costain who were building the new A556 road and arranged for Trafford Council's environment contractor Amey to collect and deliver woodchip which resulted from the necessary felling of trees. This was raked out by our volunteers, Costain's environmental contractor Liam Fahey and Amey.
Also in 2016, we made our second and this time more successful attempt to turn a 29 metre stretch of central reservation outside the Cresta Court Hotel bright and colourful. In 2015, our seed mix was looking great until two-thirds of it was accidentally strimmed off. In 2016 it looked fabulous and despite the difficulties of maintaining this area between four lanes of busy traffic, we made progress in getting our self-seeding annuals to self-seed and bloom!
2015/16 was sadly a year in which we had to deal with a lot of vandalism and theft, particularly to the town centre planters but also to the plants on the Four Seasons walkway. Plants were uprooted, accessories stolen or smashed up and one planter was even upended onto the pavement. We had to spend money on repairs and replacements and some planter custodians had to do the same. Let's hope that this level of vandalism does not continue.