DELIGHTED Evesham people had a huge pat on the back at the town's In Bloom awards evening last Friday.

Still elated with news of the town's success in the national Britain in Bloom awards, organisers told winners of the local competitions: "You are the best of the best."

Sir William Lawrence, chairman of the Heart of England Tourist Board, added his praises and said the pride which Evesham people had in their town had been well demonstrated. Judges had been impressed too by the age ranges of people involved in the competition.

Councillor Diana Raphael explained that the School in Bloom and art competitions had been launched to ensure that as many people of all ages contributed and "each year it gets better - each and every school should be very proud of what they've done. You are all winners," she said.

There were special Town Council awards including one to Mrs Raphael. Town clerk Frank Green said it was for the enormous effort Mrs Raphael had put into achieving Evesham's success - "in every town and in every achievement there is usually one key person driving it along - here it is our own Mrs Evesham, Diana Raphael." He added:"If you cut her in half she would have Evesham written all the way through!"

The Evesham in Bloom 2000 winners were:

HANGING BASKETS: 1 Mrs R DiMarco, 8 Coldicott Gardens, 2 Mr and Mrs D Harris, 62 West Street, 3 Mr and Mrs Cockerton, 48 Broadway Road.

RETAIL SHOPS: 1 Hampton Post Office, Pershore Road, 2 Headlines, High Street, 3 Orillo Bathrooms, Davies Road.

INNS, RESTAURANTS, CLUBS AND HOTELS: 1 Oddfellows Arms, Briar Close, 2 Park View Hotel, Waterside, 3 Northwick Arms Hotel, Waterside.

BANKS AND OFFICES: 1 Allchurch Bailey, High Street, 2 Clement Rabjohns, High Street, 3 National Westminster Bank.

PUBLIC BUILDINGS: 1 Evesham Town Council, Town Hall, 2 Wychavon District Council Office, Market Square, 3 Ambulance Station.

RETAIL COURTYARDS: 1 Bridge Court, Bridge Street, 2 Hampton Farm Shop, Pershore Road.

RETIREMENT HOMES: 1 Yates Court, 2 Bewdley Court.

BEST KEPT AREA - ROAD - STREET: 1 Parklands, Hampton, Andrew Dr/Coldicott Gdn, 3 Hawthorn Road.

CARAVAN AND CAMPING PARKS: The Festival of Brass Trophy, Ranch Caravan Park, Honeybourne.

SPECIAL AWARDS: Vale of Evesham Civic Society, for their contribution to the enhancement of Evesham. Clive Allen, for his contribution to the enhancement of Evesham over many years. Derek Jarman, for his outstanding contribution to the enhancement of Evesham. Diana Raphael, for her outstanding contribution to the enhancement of Evesham.