For the past two months, Mick George has been running its ‘Skip of Gold’ competition in partnership with the Hunts Post, providing local sports clubs and community groups the chance to win £1,000.

Sean Feeley, commuications manager for Mick George Ltd, presents a cheque to Tina Prior, chairman of Chatteris In Bloom and members of the committee. Picture: ROB MORRISSean Feeley, commuications manager for Mick George Ltd, presents a cheque to Tina Prior, chairman of Chatteris In Bloom and members of the committee. Picture: ROB MORRIS

More than 100 applications were proposed before a shortlist of the 35 most-deserving cases were put forward to the voting stage. In excess of 1,500 votes were submitted ahead of the eventual winners being selected, based on the most votes received.

It was a tight affair, so close in fact that for the very first time there was a tie, which subsequently meant that two worthy initiatives received a share of the £1,000 prize fund.

St Neots Swans Swimming Club and Chatteris in Bloom jointly scooped the 2018 Skip of Gold accolade. St Neots Foodbank came third.

Chatteris in Bloom epitomise exactly what the Skip of Gold competition is all about. A volunteer-focussed initiative that incorporates the local community – aimed at brightening up the town through the implementation of beautiful plantations.

The group was set up back in 2005, competing annually in the Anglia in Bloom competition, for which they received Gold for last year’s efforts. Plans are already being formulated for this year, with Station Road the main focus. The aim is to create a wildlife garden that incorporates insect friendly plants and materials to build bug hotels.

Tina Prior, chairman of Chatteris in Bloom, said: “This news is fantastic. A core part of ‘In Bloom’ at both regional and national level is community involvement. There are people who are unable to assist financially or physically but have shown tremendous support by voting for us in this competition, which is brilliant.

“Receiving the funding is the icing on the cake to a great year and will help tremendously towards this year’s developments. Thank you to Mick George and a special thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for us.”

Swans is the Swimming Club of St Neots, delivering first class swimming lessons, fitness and social classes for parents and children alike, as well as the opportunity to get involved in competitive activity on a county, regional and national level.

The facilities from which the group operate is currently undergoing refurbishments, so the extra money will certainly prove invaluable, especially as the club embarks on a new era with a new head coach taking the reigns.

Andrea Gilbert, head coach at St Neots Swans Swimming Club, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who voted for us and to Mick George for this generous prize. We have a fantastic teaching scheme and an amazing group of dedicated young swimmers who are achieving excellent results. We will use this award to help us buy the latest teaching equipment, specifically a new set of diving blocks.”

Jon Stump, finance director at Mick George Ltd: “It was fantastic to see the community embrace the Skip of Gold competition, the support that the various groups received was overwhelming. This is the third time that we have run the competition in partnership with the Hunts Post and it’s clear to see by the vast number of entries just how important this support can be for the development of each nomination.”

He added: “We are increasingly active within the Huntingdon area supporting activities, individuals, clubs and charities at all levels from grass roots to professional outfits. The Mick George Skip of Gold competition provides a little more insight to what the community really care about and are involved in within their daily lives. The £1,000 prize fund will undoubtedly make a real difference and should help build a brighter future. We are proud of our community initiatives and look forward to any forthcoming engagement.”