Falkirk has trumped scores of towns across Britain by winning a Gold award in the prestigious Britain in Bloom Awards.
The town centre gained its top level recognition for a field-leading array of stunning urban floral displays.
Falkirk’s triumph was announced at an awards ceremony in Belfast last night, after a contest in which Scotland won more titles than any other UK nation or region.
Falkirk’s gold accolade was in the category for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and will be widely seen as national recognition for the town’s ongoing efforts to revitalise its historic centre.
At a time when towns across Scotland are struggling to retain a solid retail base the stunning success will highlight Falkirk as an attractive and vibrant placewhich people want to visit.
Finalists are judged on their horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility, with Royal Horticultural Society judges visiting communities from the end of July.
A team from Falkirk Delivers collected Falkirk’s gold award from Chris Bavin, presenter of BBC Two’s Britain in Bloom TV series and guest speaker at the awards ceremony.
Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “It’s great to see such commitment to improving the environmental quality of the places they live in and care for – especially during such a hot summer.
“Keep Scotland Beautiful, in partnership with the RHS, has supported the work of these community groups, and the many others like them, for decades. Their hard work - raising horticultural standards, focusing on sustainability and reaching out to their communities - has had a positive impact on all who live in and visit these locations.”
A total of 76 groups from across the UK competed in 12 categories, with each also vying for a gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze medal.
Linlithgow was also among Scots entrants to score major success last night, emerging with a gold award - and top recognition for the efforts of community champion Ron Smith.
Ron, convener of the Burgh Beautiful team, had said earlier: “If we get gold this time round it would be a really good reward for the thousands of hours people have spent, not only on the town’s floral displays but clearing the streets of litter and weeds”. As winner of the best town category, Linlithgow was praised for its “magnificent” community-led entry.
Darren Share, chairman of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said: “This year’s finalists faced the most challenging conditions the competition has ever seen with much of the country under snow and ice at the start of spring followed by the joint hottest summer on record”.