Evesham was fading -- but look at it now. Flowers are sprouting everywhere and whole swathes of the town have been transformed. Even its public toilets have been voted the best in the country. Zeena Lemon finds out how it happened.

Evesham is blossoming. It's nothing to do with the glorious annual display of fruit trees that takes place during spring in the Vale of Evesham, but to the fact that the historic riverside town is firmly back on every tourist and local visitors' map, thanks to a three-year regeneration programme.

Since 2001, the peaceful Worcestershire market town has undergone something of a makeover that is not just skin deep. The town has won a number of local and national awards for its redevelopment work, including the prestigious National Markets Town Award and the Heart of England regional award for the best town in the Britain in Bloom competition.

Evesham has always been a popular destination for visitors beginning a visit to the Cotswolds and for day-trippers from the West Midlands, with the parks and Avon riverside acting as a magnet for people seeking a relaxing day out.

But as Lewis Hammond, markets town manager explains, Evesham's beauty was fading, "Evesham needed to make better use of its river heritage and have better links with the town centre. We wanted to make Evesham the jewel of the Avon," he said.

Three years and £500,000 later and Evesham is certainly glittering like a precious stone. Riverside areas have been transformed, parks have undergone massive makeovers and the town centre now boasts all the best high street names, including a newly opened Marks and Spencer's Simply Food store.

There are new riverside mooring areas, picnic areas and newly marked, circular walks around the town, with a 3-5-mile walk to the country park planned for the near future. There is also a fantastic new water feature for children in the main riverside park.

Areas that were run down or not used have been reborn as wonderful places for visitors and residents alike to relax in.

"Take the Waterside Gardens," says Lewis Hammond. "That was used for fly-tipping and random car parking but when managed it has become a lovely riverside and roadside meadow with benches and tables for picnics. The meadow changes character each year, with new varieties of flowers being planted to enhance the hardy perennials."

Even the Viaduct Meadow toilets have won a national award as the best in the country.

There is more to come, too, with additions to the recent riverside housing developments planned. These stand as a testimony to the growing popularity of the town, which is now ranked among the top 10 places to live according to one national newspaper.

With attractions such as Abbey Park, the Evesham Country Park and wonderful historical buildings, Evesham is truly a great place to spend some time. The Almonry Heritage Centre -- a 14th century building that was once home to the Almoner of Evesham Abbey -- the Bell Tower and twin churches of All Saints and St. Lawrence grace the town and remind the visitor of the past, while the newly refurbished Riverside Shopping Centre and the many superb restaurants serving famed local produce provide the visitors of the present with all their needs.

Evesham is not short of events, too, which make the most of its beautiful riverside and superb fishing. They include a number of angling festivals and a wonderful river festival and illuminated boat rally held in July. These festivals welcome up to 100,000 people each year and have really helped to put Evesham back on the map.

If you take the time to visit Evesham you will relax by the river, have fun in the parks, discover ancient heritage and find a town back in full bloom.