Bloom campaign gets off to a flyer

A Northumberland community pulled together on Saturday to harvest much-needed funds to improve its floral displays.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 25th February 2016, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2016, 4:00 pm
The Alnwick Gala Evening at the White Swan.
The Alnwick Gala Evening at the White Swan.

Businesses and voluntary organisations in Alnwick joined forces in an event organised by the town’s Chamber of Trade, raising around £7,000 for Alnwick in Bloom to buy plants to spruce up parts of the town.

The Alnwick Gala Evening at the White Swan was the culmination of a successful crusade to sell 3,000 raffle tickets at a pound apiece, which were match-funded by the Halifax Community Bank.

As well as the prize draw, more than 120 people enjoyed a race night with auction and a buffet.

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“It was an amazing effort by the entire community,” said Carlo Biagioni, chairman of the Chamber.

“It was a unique event in recent times to have so many local organisations coming together in one place supporting a single aim, to improve the look of the town for visitors and the townspeople themselves.”

The organisations represented on the evening included Alnwick Chamber of Trade (ACT), Alnwick in Bloom, Alnwick Tourism Association, Alnwick Lions, Alnwick Rotary, the town council, Halifax Bank, MKM Building Supplies and, crucially, The Alnwick Garden, as the town hopes to embark on a new era of co-operation between town and Garden.

The event was hosted by The White Swan Hotel, which also provided a drink on arrival and fabulous buffet, with sweets donated by Proof of the Pudding and Iceland Frozen Foods.

Eight races, screened and run by Anthony Pattison, were sponsored by housebuilders Cussins, estate agents Rook Matthews Sayer, Alnwick Tourism Association, Carlo’s Fish and Chip Restaurant, Northumbrian Pets, Bell and Sons Menswear, John Hope and Colin Davidson.

And more than 60 businesses and organisations provided raffle prizes. “We had unprecedented support in the way of prizes for the raffle and auction, and we sincerely thank all those who generously gave those prizes,” said Carlo.

Tom Pattinson, president of Alnwick in Bloom, said: “This was a brilliant get-together of so many Alnwick businesses and organisations, we must do it again.

“We wish to offer our sincere thanks to the Chamber of Trade and White Swan for hosting, an amazing number of traders for donating raffle prizes and selling tickets, and the town for supporting the event.

“Our special thanks go to Jonathan Park, from the Halifax Bank, and Carlo Biagioni for organising the event and working so hard to ensure its success.

“The money will be spent in improving the town’s appearance. Initially, we have draft plans for three main areas – Pottergate Garden, Green Batt and the bus station.”

Elizabeth Jones, chairman of Alnwick in Bloom, said: “The Gala Night, so magnificently hosted by the White Swan, was an overwhelming success. Jonathan Clark, of the Halifax Community Bank, and Carlo Biagioni, chairman of the Alnwick Chamber of Trade, had worked hard to bring together the immensely generous folk and traders of Alnwick.

“Alnwick in Bloom already had plans drawn up to support the Alnwick’s quarters colour-themed ethos, aiming to upgrade our bus station (planting green), Pottergate Garden (planting red) and Green Batt Garden (as a peaceful retreat). And as a result of the proceeds, AiB is confident that a good proportion of these pipe dreams can be achieved, especially with the support that Alnwick Garden has so kindly offered.

“So Alnwick, everyone everywhere; an enormous thank-you to you all, from us all in Alnwick in Bloom.”

Ian Coverdale, local director for the Halifax, described it as “an excellent night for a fantastic cause”.

He said it was refreshing to see all local businesses within a community being aligned to a common goal.

“I am delighted that Halifax Community Bank has been able to support. I wish Alnwick in Bloom every success,” he added.

The event was also attended by award-winning garden designer Sean Murray, who has been commissioned by a steering group, including ACT, Alnwick in Bloom, The Alnwick Garden and the town council, to revamp the Column Field and create a sculpture park, as reported in last week’s Gazette.

Event co-organiser Carlo Biagioni said “We at ACT, and I am sure Alnwick in Bloom will concur, would like to thank every single person who made this evening such a remarkable success. We would like to give a special mention to the following:

“The Halifax Community Bank for agreeing to match-fund the raffle.

“James Thompson, general manager at the White Swan, for is generosity in hosting the evening at no cost to us and that included the buffet and first drink of the evening. They were extremely generous in giving three magnificent prizes, including the Solberge Hall two-night stay. His staff were fantastic.

“Jonathan Park, assistant manager at the Halifx and committee member of Alnwick in Bloom, who set the raffle in motion and worked tirelessly to get the prizes and tickets sold.

“David Taylor, representing ACT and Alnwick Tourism Association, who came up with the idea of the Gala Evening.

“Richard Sayer, of ACT, who organised the evening entertainment and supported the auction.

Jane Aitken, of The Beauty Box, and Stephen Bell, of ACT, were a tremendous help. Bill Grisdale for designing and printing the raffle tickets, John Parker for making the evening so much fun and evryone who attended the event.”

Top prize in the raffle, a two-night stay, including dinner, bed and breakfast, at Solberge Hall in North Yorkshire, donated by the White Swan, was won by Wendy Stuckey, of Warkworth.

All raffle winners will be notified and can pick up their prizes from Bell and Sons in Bondgate Within.

Alnwick Chamber of Trade would like to thank the following companies, organisations and individuals who donated prizes (apologies if anyone has been omitted): MKM, Taste of Northumberland, Alnwick Accountants, MoJo, Hotspur Residential, Tiger Lifting, Kenspeckle, Rickerby’s, the Duchess of Northumberland, Bailiffgate Museum, Conroy’s/Pandora, Penroses, Northumbrian Cottages, Doves, Mastora, Aln Valley Railway, M & Co, Outcook, Bell and Sons Menswear, Regram, Lionheart Radio, Blackshaws, Salon 2, TW Wilcox, Willowburn Leisure, Alnwick Castle Golf Club, Tustain Motors, Alnwick Playhouse, West Acre House, Sportsworld, Alnwick Studio, The Wool Shop, Turnbull’s, Jobson’s, Seasons, Kiddies’ Kabin, Bari Tea, Olly Dial, Copperfields, Yans, Melvyn’s, House and Home, Lilburns, Northumbrian Pets, Carlo’s, Happy Cat Crafts, Active Northumberland, Market Place Butcher, Co-op, The Pantry, The Beauty Box, PD Quick, The Plough, Alnwick Wedding Cars, The Alnwick Garden, Trimmers, Mole Country Store, Marilyn & Melrose, Coast & Castle, White Swan Hotel, Di Sopra, Linden Hall, Northumberland Gazette.