JUDGES of a prestigious regional gardening competition ruled in County Durham’s favour as a haul of awards were handed over.

The county won a series of awards in Northumbria in Bloom, including best overall entry and best small city for Durham and best large town for Chester-le-Street.

There was further success for Sedgefield and Tanfield, in the best small town and best small village categories.

Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s (DCC) head of direct services, said: “We’re delighted the judges have once again recognised how blooming marvellous our county is. This is thanks to the combined efforts of our staff, residents, schools, businesses, volunteers and the various In Bloom groups to ensure our parks and floral displays look great.”

Belmont also claimed best urban community, with the accolades adding to the county’s list of success in the annual contest over many years.

The Durham City and Chester le Street entries were submitted by DCC with the others put forward by either town or parish councils, or local ‘In Bloom’ groups.

Northumbria In Bloom is part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom, a yearly nationwide gardening competition.

Durham is in the running for an award in Britain in Bloom following success in last year’s regional event and welcomed judges from the national competition in August.

In giving Durham the Percy Boydell Award for best overall entry, judges said: “Durham is a green and attractive city, a horticultural showpiece for the region with a high standard of horticultural excellence, stunning roundabouts, and wonderful examples of 3D carpet bedding from butterflies to Bishop’s Mitre, conservation, bio-diversity, and praise worthy community and business involvement.

“The city is an exemplar of the value of community spirit and pride from involvement of grassroots volunteers to motivating strong business support.”

Echoing these comments in relation to the best small city award, they added: “Having won Best Overall Entry in 2017, Durham has not rested on its well-deserved laurels.”

Meanwhile judges said of Chester-le-Street’s best large town prize: “The Area Action Partnership of Durham County Council, various agencies and numerous community groups from schools, churches and Friends groups have worked together to make Chester-le-Street colourful and attractive throughout the year.

“The communication and collective effort within the groups has ensured this success.”