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Mendips green fingered judges

A group of green fingered experts have been selected to share their skills on two of the country's top judging panels.Two officers at Mendip District Council have been chosen to become Green Flag judges, while another has been accepted as a regional Britain in Bloom judge.

Rob Thurston and Cathy Day, who both work for the council's street and landscape team and are qualified horticulturalists, will soon be casting their professional eyes over parks and open spaces across the country in their new Green Flag roles.

It is hoped that their experience of being judges will bring benefits to their work at Mendip District Council. They hope to improve areas in Mendip by gaining more knowledge on what makes a Green Flag open space.

Rob Thurston, who manages the council's department which deals with street cleaning and ground-care, said: “It is a tremendous opportunity to meet and network with other people who have similar interests as part of the Green Flag judges association.

“Becoming a judge is also a chance for me to retain professional interest and maintain my levels of expertise.”

As part of their training, Rob and Cathy will have to work with other judges to ensure that there is a common approach to assessing parks and green spaces.

Cathy Day, who is the team leader for street scene services, said: “There is no indication what judging assignments will be given to us, but it can range from small local open spaces to major parks, and we are expecting to start judging in the spring or summer.”

In addition, Ruth Miles, who also works in the street and landscape team, has been chosen as a Britain in Bloom judge.

Ruth, who is a qualified horticulturalist and was instrumental in setting up Mendip in Bloom over a decade ago, is expected to begin judging in the south west region in July.

She said: “I'm really looking forward to it. I hope that my work as a judge will allow me to identify and bring back some best practice ideas to Mendip from around the south west.”

The three officers were selected for their judging roles because of their backgrounds in horticulture and environmental management.

To find out more about the services provided by Mendip District Council telephone customer services on 01749 648999, e-mail: customerservices@mendip.gov.uk, or visit www.mendip.gov.uk.

The Green Flag Award is the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales, and recognises the best green spaces in the country. It is managed by the Civic Trust on behalf of the government's Department for Communities and Local Government. The trust aims to inspire and promote improvements in the quality of life for all. Winning a Green Flag Award brings publicity, with the media and public seeing a Green Flag flying as a sign of high quality green space. Each site is judged on its own merits and suitability to the community it serves.

Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status. The number of applicants increases year after year and, with this increasing interest in the scheme.

Entries for the Britain in Bloom competition, which is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, are received by local authorities, town or parish councils or by voluntary local 'bloom' committees. Judging of the first stage takes place in June/July with winners announced during local presentations between August and November.

Winners then go on to represent their region in the national final.

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