Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Silver service for Leeds at Chelsea

Caption 1: Her Majesty The Queen visits the garden meeting with (from left) Kevin Hardy and Patrick Hennighan of sponsors HESCO Bastion along with Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Andrew Carter.
Caption 2: Joanna Lumley talks with one of the garden designers Martin Walker, who is Recreation Partnerships Manager for Leeds City Council.
Caption 3: Dame Helen Mirren talks with Leeds City Council Executive Member for Leisure Cllr John Procter.

Leeds City Council enjoyed a silver lining at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week by claiming a Silver Gilt Flora award at the world-famous event.

The HESCO Garden, designed and created by the council’s Parks and Countryside Service supported and fully funded by sponsors HESCO Bastion, greatly impressed the judging panel who gave it an award which matched Leeds’ best-ever at Chelsea.

The garden earned ‘royal’ approval twice over on the Monday press day, as Her Majesty the Queen paid the garden a visit following on from actress Dame Helen Mirren, who famously won an Oscar for her portrayal of Her Majesty and who herself visited The HESCO Garden earlier in the day.

The HESCO Garden proved hugely popular on press day, attracting other famous names from the worlds of film, television, theatre, music and sport. Among those to visit the garden included Joanna Lumley, Richard E Grant, Mackenzie Crook, Barry Norman, Nigel Havers, Andrew Lincoln, Rolf Harris, Moira Stewart, Jennie Bond and The Calendar Girls. Former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio also visited, along with opera stars Katherine Jenkins, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, pop star Will Young and fellow chart-toppers The Feeling.

The garden also drew admiring glances from the BBC show television crew, who visited three times during the day and had presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Christine Walkden produce a live lunchtime link from the garden on BBC1.

After the award was confirmed, leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Andrew Carter said:
“We are proud to have again earned a Silver Gilt Flora award. That this is our third such award shows the consistently high level of garden that we bring to Chelsea and that is a great reflection on the talent and skills we have in Leeds.
“The garden has been hugely popular since the show opened, impressing everyone who has seen it, and it is wonderful in terms of promoting the city of Leeds that we can come to an international event like this and compete with the very best. The whole team can reflect on a job very well done.”

The themes of The HESCO Garden are around climate-change and flood alleviation, with the aim of raising awareness of things people can do in their own gardens to improve how the garden uses and retains rainwater, to help stop a repeat of the extreme floods of 2007 which caused huge damage in Yorkshire and across the UK.

It was inspired by rain gardens which are popular in America as a way of holding water and releasing it slowly to limit flash flooding. Modelled on a typical Yorkshire garden, the garden draws on a number of different techniques and uses locally-sourced materials combined with plants which flourish in wet conditions.

The garden has been created by Leeds City Council working with sponsors HESCO Bastion, who are world-renowned manufacturers of products used in civil engineering and are themselves are based in Leeds.

HESCO Bastion said:
“This is a great result for The HESCO Garden and all the team that put such hard work and dedication into creating such an amazing garden. The show garden has been a great opportunity to promote understanding and knowledge on the environmental pressures facing our communities.
“Our products are used worldwide to provide planned and sustainable flood protection, so we were pleased to be asked by Leeds City Council's Parks and Countryside Service to be the sponsor of this year’s garden and get involved in not only the design of the garden but also the educational messages of rainwater management. HESCO Bastion would like to wish congratulations to all those involved – a well-earned result.”
The garden is on display for the rest of this week at the famous show, which attracts over 150,000 visitors from all over the world to the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London.

Leeds City Council has enjoyed great success at Chelsea in recent years, with all six previous gardens dating back to the first in 1997 earning bronze or silver awards.

For all the latest news, details and photos of The HESCO Garden and to follow the live garden webcam during the show, visit the official website at www.leedsatchelsea.com

Notes to editors:
· In the summer of 2007, the extreme floods left 55,000 homes and businesses in the UK flooded and insurance claims of almost £3 billion.
· From Environment Agency figures, approximately 550,000 people live in areas at risk of flooding in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
· The Yorkshire and Humber region has the second largest number of people living in a floodplain in the country – the largest is Greater London.
· HESCO Bastion were called on during the 2007 floods to protect key water treatment and power plants in Gloucestershire and stretches of railway lines in the north east, while internationally they were also called in to help after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav hit the USA.

Children across Leeds given water safety message

Nine thousand school children across Leeds are being reminded about the dangers of swimming in open water.

This week is Water Safety Week which is being marked with a series of special safety classes which will replace normal swimming lessons.

They’ve been organised by Leeds City Council’s sport and active recreation service.

Youngsters will be told to use the water safety code by remembering the word ‘safe’. Each letter represents part of the code. S is for spot the dangers, A is for take advice, F is for go with a friend when swimming and E is for emergency and learning what do if there is one.

In the practical sessions in the pool, the children will be shown how they can help someone in trouble without putting themselves in danger.

Once the class is over, they’ll be given a special safety leaflet.

Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death among 11 to 18 year olds and most people lose their lives in places like rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs.

Of those who drown each year many can swim and several people have lost their lives while trying to rescue someone who needs help.


Journalists and photographers are invited to attend one of the safety classes at Aireborough leisure centre in Guiseley this week (apart from Friday). Please call the press office on 0113 395 0393 to arrange your attendance.


This week’s classes are part of the national curriculum standards for key stage two and follow on from the active water safety programme which is taken into schools every year.

Councillor John Procter, executive board member with responsibility for leisure said:

“With the summer months approaching, more and more youngsters will be tempted to take to the water to cool off.

“While I don’t want to spoil their fun I do want them to think about the dangers they’re putting themselves in and that means going to a swimming pool which is far safer than rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs.

“These classes will help get that message across at the same time as teaching the youngsters about what they can do if there is ever an emergency.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council Press Office (0113) 395 0393
email: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk