Photo gallery: Awards for dedicated volunteers who help Norwich look blooming marvellous

A husband and wife team who are among the champions of the Norwich in Bloom floral campaign have spoken of how proud they were to receive a national award on behalf of volunteers at one of the city's churches.

As previously reported, Norwich scooped a prestigious silver gilt award in the city category of the RHS Britain in Bloom finals in Guernsey at the weekend.

At the same ceremony the volunteers who look after the grounds of St Stephen's Church, in Rampant Horse Street, were honoured with an RHS It's Your Neighbourhood National Certificate of Distinction, and two of the group's key members, Reg and Jo Chiddick, were presented with the accolade.

Mrs Chiddick, of Aylsham Road, said: 'It was an honour to go up and collect the award. It was terrific – we never really expected it. The area is a prime position in the middle of the city. It is an oasis, and we want to make sure it looks nice all the time. St Stephen's is a beautiful old church and it needs a good background.'

Mr and Mrs Chiddick, along with fellow volunteer Sally Clarke, lead the effort to look after the churchyard and do everything from picking up rubbish to planting flowers and weeding and watering to keep the area looking beautiful.

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Among other things, the churchyard includes a raised floral wall planted up twice a year by City College Norwich students, a small floral garden, a wild flower area, and bird and bee boxes to attract wildlife.

Mrs Chiddick said: 'Hundreds of people walk through this churchyard daily and many stop to admire the grounds of this beautiful old church, right in the centre of Norwich. We get great pleasure and satisfaction in knowing that we are helping to support and maintain the local environment for residents and visitors to enjoy.'

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She said the church had been unable to enter the local and regional In Bloom competitions for a few years because of restoration work, but in 2008 it won best floral churchyard in Norwich.

Mr and Mrs Chiddick have been involved with the Friends of Norwich in Bloom since 1987 when they entered the best floral container competition. They won the category in 1989 and then became committee members of the group.

As well as being volunteers at St Stephen's Church, throughout the years they have held various positions with the Friends of Norwich in Bloom.

Mr Chiddick is currently vice chairman and videographer for the Friends, while Mrs Chiddick is the press officer and responsible for taking photographs of the Norwich in Bloom events.

Together they also maintain the Friends display case outside The Assembly House and are the schools liaison officers.

• Also at the RHS Britain in Bloom Awards, the Memorial Gardens, near City Hall in Norwich, were nominated for the RHS Britain in Bloom Sustainable Landscaping Award.

Initially built in 1938 as an oasis of peace looking out over the market place and as a setting for the war memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the gardens are a focal point for the city's civic and remembrance services.

The gardens were closed in November 2004, and the gardens and memorial underwent a �2.6m restoration project which included the war memorial being turned to face City Hall and creating more space in the garden where a new sculpture was installed.

The gardens include raised planting areas, seating, lighting and flagpoles with sculpted bronze bases depicting peace and plenty.

• Are you celebrating a special achievement? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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