Growing places! YMCA garden designer wins lifetime achievement award in prestigious Brighton competition

bloom-1Paul Attwood, Brighton YMCA’s dedicated gardener, won a lifetime achievement award in this year’s Brighton and Hove City in Bloom competition. The jury recognised Paul’s significant contribution over the years in preserving, enhancing and reinstating Brighton YMCA’s garden, whilst at the same time involving the organisation’s clients in all aspects of gardening.

Brighton YMCA’s George Williams Mews gardens in Portslade, where Paul works, received two other prizes in the same competition: Third Prize in the Best Community Garden category and Joint Second prize for Best Wildlife Garden. Paul and Alex Raisis, member of the gardening group, attended the event at Jury’s Inn. As part of his Lifetime Achievement Award, Paul received a basket of organic produce which he is planning to share with Brighton YMCA residents.

Alexandra Cuncev, Policy and Service Improvement Officer at Brighton YMCA, said: ‘We would like to extend our congratulations to Paul Attwood and the residents at George Williams Centre. The garden is looking amazing and it is their great achievement to have participated and won prizes four times in a row in this prestigious gardening competition.’

Infinity Foods Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

Every year Brighton & Hove City in Bloom thank someone who has proven long term dedication to a community project. This year Infinity Foods welcomed the chance to be involved with the Lifetime Achievement award after they had seen Paul’s work. The judges said: ‘Paul’s commitment to integrating gardening into projects at the YMCA George Williams Centre in Portslade and teaching essential skills which can be used in future employment earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award 2016. Whilst Paul has a PhD in Environmental Research, it is his passion and success in his endeavours that fully deserve this small tribute.’

Entries to the competition are invited from the Brighton community – businesses, schools, local residents who wish to improve their local environment. Entrants into the Best Wildlife category must reproduce a habitat as close to the natural world as possible, whilst entries to the Best Community Garden need to demonstrate their positive role within the community. In the last few years, Brighton YMCA were especially invited to take part in the competition by the award board.

Bee keeping and harvesting honey

This year, the garden incorporates a new perfumed rose wall leading to the wildlife pond. The gardening group at Brighton YMCA have also started to learn about bee keeping. To this day they had three honey harvests. The residents took part in harvesting, filtering and bottling the honey. Most of the honey will be used in the professional Life Skills courses offered at George Williams Centre.

The judges for all three prizes commented on the unique qualities of the garden, as well as on the challenges of creating a tranquil space on a complex site. ‘We were very impressed. All areas are planted to maximise attracting wildlife and for sensory benefits. The work done within the community can be testing and the garden is a sanctuary for residents. We also enjoyed the loganberries and redcurrants in the soft fruit area!’