NETTING a gold in Anglia in Bloom means hopes are high that Huntingdon will top the board at the national awards for Britain in Bloom, on Sunday.

Huntingdon was the only town in Huntingdonshire to win the top medal at the Anglia in Bloom awards last week.

Although it narrowly lost out to Wisbech in the large town category, the award has buoyed hopes that Huntingdon could secure the title at the Britain in Bloom final, which is judged separately from its regional cousin.

Huntingdon will face competition from Whickham in Northumbria, Coleraine in Ulster, Whitehaven in Cumbria, Glenrothes in Scotland, and Colne in Lancashire at the awards ceremony in St Andrews, Scotland.

Huntingdon in Bloom secretary Ann Colbert said: “We are really delighted with the gold award. It gives us hope for St Andrews. This has given us a bit of confidence.”

The In Bloom committee also received an award for its hospital garden project. The project to transform Hinchingbrooke Hospital garden was named best community project.

In December 2009, Ms Colbert was visiting a relative in the hospital when she noticed the garden was looking overgrown, and rallied a group of volunteers to help give it a make-over.

Since then, the group, now numbering 12, has met once a month to keep it looking trim – twice a month in the summer. The volunteers have cleared the site and planted new shrubs and bushes.

Many of the volunteers have had family members treated at Hinchingbrooke and were keen to give something back.

Funding has been received from Anglian Home Improvements and the Cambridgeshire Community Trust, although donations and help are always welcome.

Ms Colbert said: “We are trying to take it step by step to get it so that the hospital can manage it easier.”

Huntingdon Community Nursery, in Godmanchester, won an award for best garden for special needs. Since Huntingdonshire District Council project officer Mary Evans took on the once-derelict Park Lane site three years ago, the project has gone from strength to strength.

It produces several thousand saplings of oak, ash, hawthorn, maple and shrubs for parish planting schemes across the district each year.

Volunteers from the learning disability charity Inspire, the Papworth Trust and MIND, and pupils from Godmanchester Primary School and St Anne’s Primary School, regularly visit and tend to the site.

Cabbages, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and raspberries are grown in the nursery’s greenhouse and polytunnel.

A £3,986 award from environment fund Biffaward granted in July means plans for a bee garden can be realised and a new outdoor kitchen is being created.

Bryan Bowles, chairman of the Friends of Huntingdon Community Nursery, said: “It was really good to be recognised and really good to recognise the work Mary has done. It is a reward for all the effort. It is a nice acknowledgement.”

Tudor Fields Residents’ Association, in Godmanchester, was also nominated for the best community project award.

In St Neots, the town received its fourth silver gilt award in a row and clinched the environmental quality award for the region.

The award is given to the town, village or city that manages waste and cleanliness most effectively. St Neots was nominated for the prize by the judges, along with Chatteris, South Wootton, Heacham, Levington, Lakenham Way in Norwich and Manningtree.

St Neots in Bloom chairman Alison Pearson said the general absence of litter plus a graffiti artwork project run by the Rotary Clubs of St Neots and St Neots St Mary’s impressed the judges.

Also given special mentions were Sudbury Meadow and Riverside Park. And the judges made a visit to Eynesbury Church of England School, where pupils showed off their raised bed planting project.

Ms Pearson said: “We would like to thank everyone who has helped St Neots to gain these two awards.

“Improving the visual impact of the town can only bring good results, making it more pleasant to live in and more attractive to visitors.”

Among the projects in the pipeline for next year are plans to redesign the Jubilee Garden.