Plenty of smiles still abound in the prettiest town around!
THE In Bloom celebrations are continuing in Caistor.
Only three years after the town's Britain In Bloom group got together, it is celebrating winning the accolade of the Best Large Village in the East Midlands.
And alongside it, as reported, came a coveted gold award in the Britain In Bloom Awards 2012.
The results were announced at Springfields Festival Park, in Spalding, a town that knows a thing or two about floral celebrations.
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And the Caistor In Bloom team were there to collect their gongs, led by president Ernie Brown and chairman Deborah Barker.
Caistor also received a Judge's Award for impressive levels of community engagement, recognising the part played by schools, business and community groups.
"We just held our breath as the awards were being announced," said Ms Barker.
"I knew we had got a gold when another village got a gold with fewer marks than we were awarded.
"When it came to Best Kept Village, Market Bosworth was announced before us and Ernie turned to me and said we must have won. It was a fantastic moment."
It meant champagne celebrations down in Spalding ... and more when the group got back to Caistor.
Judge John Simpson, recalling his visit for a second year, said: "It was great to meet members of the community and shake people's hands – some I recognised from the previous year – I must have seen 100 people in total."
The competition was fierce, with some seasoned campaigners of more than 25 years experience, and some that have previously represented the area nationally.
Caistor gained a fantastic score of 182 points out of 200 – an increase from 172 last year, to achieve the highest score overall for the 2012 competition. As 55 community groups were represented from across six counties, this was an incredible boost rewarding the supreme efforts of the community and businesses in the town.
The progress of the town has increased in momentum over the years, having gained a silver award in 2010, followed by a Gold award last year, now the town has done even better this year as another gold award sits alongside the Category Winner accolade. Caistor first got among the awards in 2010, winning a silver gilt, followed by a gold award last year. The town has gone one better this time, as a Category Winner.
Open gardens days, clean-ups by volunteers, extra mowing of grass borders, litter-free parks and community areas, Caistor's turnaround since the Caistor Townscape Initiative investment is now almost complete.
Moving forward, Caistor In Bloom has lived up to the hopes of Mr Brown, when he spoke of aiming higher and maintaining standards, a target which was so clearly achieved.
The bad weather this year hampered gardeners and flower tub volunteers, so the win makes Caistor's efforts even more impressive. And to think it all started with a hosepipe ban.
Jeff Bates, chairman of East Midlands In Bloom, said: "This year the grey skies and prolonged periods of heavy rain caused a number of problems to In Bloom groups.
"Regardless of the weather, high standards were still maintained and there were lots of excellent examples showing communities working together to bring long lasting improvements to their area."