The army of volunteers who make Norwich a blooming bootiful city

Mary HamiltonAs the weather warms up, an army of volunteers is working to make Norwich a blooming beautiful city - and keep its crown as one of the world's top cities for green spaces.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websiteMary Hamilton

As the weather warms up, an army of volunteers is working to make Norwich a blooming beautiful city - and keep its crown as one of the world's top cities for green spaces.

The Friends of Norwich in Bloom are encouraging green-fingered gardeners to compete to create the best floral displays, and organising riotous displays of colour on roundabouts, in planters and in public areas all over the city.

Their efforts led last year to beating cities around the globe to win coveted Five Bloom status and the Youth Involvement Award at the prestigious international Communities in Bloom competition.

Secretary Julie Brociek-Coulton, who was chairman of the Friends for three years, said: 'I think it makes people feel uplifted when they come into the city.

'You see these lovely flowers and gardens and trees kept really well, and you have a pride in yourself and in your city. There's a sense of being home.'

The Friends see their work as a crucial way of keeping Norwich clean, bright and a pleasant place to live - all things which will help strengthen the bid to be UK City of Culture in 2013.

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'I think the City of Culture bid is fantastic,' said Ms Brociek-Coulton. 'It's a really good thing for the city - not just for businesses but for the people who live here too.

'It's a great way of promoting the city and all the history and beauty that you find here.

'With the bid and with the war memorial on its way, it really feels as though everything is looking up for the city.'

There are about 50 Friends at the moment, with about 15 to 20 active members, but the group works with hundreds of other people and community projects all over the city.

'When we take judges around the city we go on a route that takes in all these different places and the work done by different groups,' said Ms Brociek-Coulton.

'When the Canadian judges came we took them to the Assembly House where the City College students had done so much work, to St Stephen's Church to see the churchyard, to Mousehold Heath to meet the Defenders, and to Mousehold School and Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind to see their gardens.

'Those are just a few of the organisations who get involved, and we work to make sure they get a showcase and credit for the brilliant things they do.

'We are a group that tries to promote other groups. It's not the Friends winning all these awards, it's the people who love the city and who work to make their part of it beautiful who are winning.'

She added that the Friends are always looking for more volunteers, and that green fingers were not a requirement for helping out.

'I'm terrible at growing things, but I'm a good organiser,' she said. 'The beauty of groups like this is that everyone's skills are useful and there's a place for everyone.

'I do it because I love it. We have a brilliant time and we achieve an awful lot - there's nothing more brilliant than taking people round the city and showing it off.'

For more information about the Friends, to join or to enter the competition, visit or contact Julie Brociek-Coulton on 07786694325, 01603 470652 or

A blooming fine city

In 2007 Norwich won the Small City, Urban Regeneration and Urban Community categories at Anglia in Bloom, with two gold medals and a silver gilt.

In the same year the Friends won a silver medal at Living Communities in London, competing against countries all over the world to show best practice for environmental issues.

In 2008 the city was entered for Britain in Bloom, and won the Urban Regeneration category with a silver gilt medal for Chapelfield, a silver medal in the same category for the Lanes and a silver gilt medal in the Small City category. Current chairman of the Friends Terry Bane was given an Outstanding Contribution award for his work.

In 2009 Norwich took part in the international Communities in Bloom competition based in Canada. The city beat off stiff international competition to win an award for Youth Involvement in the Chapelfield area, and was given five out of five blooms - the highest that can be awarded.

In the same year at Anglia in Bloom Norwich won a gold medal as a Small City, and a silver award for Urban Regeneration, as well as a bronze at the Living Communities competition.

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