EAST Lancashire’s best kept villages and towns have come up smelling of roses in this year’s North West in Bloom Awards.

The area scooped 14 awards for horticultural excellence at the ceremony in Southport, and topping the list was Chipping.

The Ribble Valley village not only claimed the gold medal for best village and the Mayor of Preston’s Trophy for Biodiversity, but won the silver gilt award in the national Britain in Bloom award scheme.

Barry Durham, chairman of Chipping in Bloom, said: “Considering that we have only been going five years, to pick up a gold medal each time is quite an achievement. We also really pleased that all work put into creating the Wildflower Meadow was rewarded.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers who turned out in all sorts of weather to help us complete the project.

“The trophy is a tribute to the backing we have received from the whole village.”

Colne also came up trumps in the awards ceremony, claiming both the gold medal for best large town and winner of the Lord Mayor of Chester’s Trophy. The committee has now been forward to compete in Britain in Bloom 2013.

Councillor Dorothy Lord, chair of the Colne In Bloom committee, said: “I was a bit stunned that we got through to Britain in Bloom next year, but I thought we’d win gold in our category because I know how much hard work we’ve put in.

“It’s also the fourth time we’ve won the Mayor of Chester’s trophy - it’s a new award and it’s only ever had our name on it.”

Coun Lord said: “When I was first asked to look into putting up some hanging baskets seven or eight years ago, all there was were two flower beds looked after by the park’s department of the council.

“Now we have 14 volunteers and last year we spent £15,000 on flowers. It’s not just about putting flowers in the high street, it’s about pubs, businesses and home owners getting involved, taking pride in Colne.

“On our Facebook page we’ve had so many comments from residents saying how proud they are of living here, and I’m sure that making the town look attractive is helping businesses.”

North West in Bloom was set up as a regional arm of the Britain in Bloom competition, aimed at encouraging local communities to improve and care for their local environment, as well as increasing civic pride and boosting tourism and regeneration.