Flower power bloomed with Chris at the reins

Chris Etherington, right, with Margaret Richards, Jim Goodwin,husband Gordon Etherington and Rae Beckwith
Chris Etherington, right, with Margaret Richards, Jim Goodwin,husband Gordon Etherington and Rae Beckwith

A volunteer who has devoted 18 years to making sure Harboorugh looks blooming marvellous each year is stepping down from her role.

Chris Etherington, who lives in Harborough with husband Gordon, started Harborough in Bloom in 1996 when she was working at Harborough District Council.

She is stepping down after a recent bout of ill health and due to the amount of work she also does for other organisations.

Chris said: “It would have been nice to reach 20 years, but something had to give.

“I would like to thank the volunteers, the staff at Welland Park, the business sponsors and all those people who have supported Harborough in Bloom over the years, in particular Richard Moss of Park Nurseries, whose advice and vision in the early years was invaluable.”

When Chris started at Harborough in Bloom there were just six hanging baskets in the town.

She worked tirelessly to gain sponsorship and recruit volunteers and the gardens grew, with a standard Harborough in Bloom year now including about 120 hanging baskets and 20 large planters put on display in town.

In 2010, Chris spearheaded a fundraising drive to get £14,000 to restore the rose garden in Welland Park and volunteers planted more than 600 roses, installed a fountain and pergola, and created a knot garden in the centre.

Chris has also worked with many primary schools, creating a different project for them each year.

In 2007, she helped raise £5,000 to enable more than 210 children to work with an artist to make bugs out of recyclable materials.

She won the Raising the Profile of the Town category at the 2009 Pride in Harborough Awards and won Britain in Bloom’s Community Champion Award last year.

Over the 18 years, Harborough has won the East Midlands in Bloom title eight times, was runner-up in Britain in Bloom last year and also won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Heritage Award in 2009.

Chris said: “It is now time to handover the reins and I wish the volunteers well and look forward to seeing and enjoying the improvements they make in the park and the town in the future.”

Chris is also a magistrate, member of the Rotary Club of Market Harborough and a team coordinator for the five Anglican churches in the Harborough area.

She is also parish clerk for Great Oxendon Parish Council and Maidwell with Drayton Parish Council.

The new coordinator for the Bloom volunteers is Margaret Richards, of Lubenham.

To find out more about volunteering, contact Margaret by phoning 01858 468229 or emailing maggie.richards@tiscali.co.uk.