RESIDENTS in Melksham who managed to defy mindless vandals have been rewarded for their efforts in this year’s South West in Bloom Awards.

Members of Bowerhill Residents Action Group were determined not to be beaten by yobs who repeatedly attacked a picnic area near the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Now they have been given a level 5 ‘outstanding’ award by South West in Bloom judges for their entry in the It’s Your Neighbourhood category.

Despite the acts of mindless vandalism in the summer they achieved Level 5: Outstanding for the picnic area.

This year is the 6th time they have entered and the 6th year they have achieved the top mark.

BRAG’s treasurer, Jenny Butcher, who with her husband Graham, heads up a team of five volunteers who look after the picnic area, said: “We are really pleased with the award. We managed to pull it off but it was hard work.

“We had two spates of vandalism in a matter of two to three weeks during the summer. They ripped out plants, broke stuff and threw some things into the canal. You name it, they did it. They even tore a bug hotel to pieces.

“It was heart-breaking at the time, but we managed to make the area safe, tidy it up and repair all the damage before the judging in July.”

A total of 63 groups from north and west Wiltshire won awards in this year’s It’s Your Neighbourhood competition. The awards were presented at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall, on Friday, October 11.

They include six from Bradford on Avon, ten from Calne, nine from Corsham, 17 from Marlborough, ten from Melksham, four from Royal Wootton Bassett, and seven from Trowbridge.

In addition, there were seven Wiltshire award winners in the Business, Leisure and Tourism section. The Cross Guns at Avoncliff, and the Brookside care home and the Avon Bowls Club both in Melksham all gained Gold.

The Royal Oak, The Green Dragon and the Lamb Inn in Marlborough all gained Silver Gilt and The Bear pub in Marlborough gained a Silver.

Avon Bowls Club member Steven Faulkner and his gardening team wife, Sue, were delighted with their Gold award.

Club spokesman Richard Buckland said: “Steve has worked tirelessly throughout the year and brought a completely new look to the club. He is a well-deserved winner of this prestigious award.”

Lady Emma Fellowes presented the award to Melksham in Bloom vice chairman Linda De Santiz on behalf of Avon Bowls Club.

Mr Buckland added: “We thank Steve for his valuable contribution, which not only raises the profile of the bowls club, but is a positive and welcomed attraction in the run up towards being a central and focal point of the new Melksham Campus.”