Halstead is a small town in rural Essex with a population of around 12,000 residents. The Halstead in Bloom organisation was formed as a community/volunteer group in 2000 to help clean, beautify and brighten up the town for all those who live, work and visit there.
Since the group’s inception, numbers have grown to a core of about 35 dedicated volunteers who take part in at least one working party a week - and more during the busy summer period. It’s an active organisation which has achieved significant success in both the Anglia and Britain in Bloom competitions, as well as receiving the Queen’s Award for Volunteers in 2011 – the equivalent to an MBE – for their services to the community.
Halstead in Bloom (HiB) has a formal partnership with their town, district and county councils, developing a supportive process of reciprocal working and great co-operation - but no funding. As a result, the group tends to raise money through sponsorship, donations and fund raising activities.
The group’s organisers first heard about Amberol when they saw the company’s products on a stand at an Anglia in Bloom event. Intrigued by the prospect of saving time and money by using self-watering planters, they picked up a leaflet and decided to place an order. Since then, HiB has invested in a wide range of Amberol self-watering products and currently has barrier baskets, half barrier baskets, hanging baskets and half barrel containers planted up around the town. In 2017, they also invested in some new promenade planters to help create varied displays at different heights.
The group has a highly successful record in the regional and national In Bloom competitions. They have been awarded Gold in Anglia in Bloom every year since 2009, as well as winning the Town Category in the annual competition and being named Overall Winner four times in Anglia in Bloom. In Britain in Bloom, HiB have been awarded Silver Gilt in 2010, then Gold in 2011 and 2012, as well as winning the Town Category in 2012. In 2014, HiB was invited to take part in the prestigious Champion of Champions category when they were awarded a well-deserved Gold
"The Amberol containers definitely help us to save water as we usually water only two times a week."
Julia Smith of Halstead in Bloom believes that Amberol’s self-watering containers make a valuable contribution to the town’s annual In Bloom entry, as well as helping to address issues around maintenance and sustainability. She says: “The Amberol containers definitely help us to save water as we usually water only two times a week. The water that we put on is saved in the container reservoirs and is then taken up as needed. Of course, this saves time - and ultimately money. We use river water to irrigate several of our town centre Amberol container displays and we do get many positive comments from residents and visitors.”
Halstead in Bloom raise a significant portion of the funds required through sponsorship. Although the group don’t have specific sponsorship packages, many local businesses are keen to support the town and sponsor a planter – in fact, they usually approach HiB requesting to be involved in sponsorship rather than the other way round.
“Each sponsor is contacted in the spring for renewal of their sponsorship from the previous year," explains Julia. “We don't contact new sponsors - they contact us! Each sponsor is given a plaque naming them which are printed free of charge for us by a local firm as sponsorship in kind. We do have other organisations who offer 'in kind' services rather than financial sponsorship, and where we can this is also noted by plaques. We use the sponsorship money to buy plants, compost, feed - and of course to replace Amberol containers if necessary.”
Julia feels that Amberol’s self-watering planters offer durability and good value for money saying: “We have tried other containers but we find that Amberol products last longer and stay looking good. They aren’t cheap, but they are definitely worth saving up for.”
Julia feels that the quality of Amberol’s products is matched by high levels of customer service saying: “The service from Amberol has always been polite and efficient. Our questions are always answered quickly and delivery is prompt, arranged to suit our needs. We have already recommended Amberol products to several people as we are impressed with the quality and service.”
Halstead in Bloom is always looking for ways to expand and improve and Julia explains that the plan is to buy more Amberol planters next year when additional funds become available. “We have used our budget for new planters this year, but already have plans for those we wish to buy for next year. Right now we can't wait to get our new planters out, filled and growing. We know that the displays will attract lots of positive comments - and hopefully will get high marks in Anglia in Bloom and RHS Britain in Bloom this year!”
To find out more about how Amberol can help you, call 01773 830 930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not often that something is offered for free with absolutely no catch. But that is what we are offering here at Amberol.
Investing in the built environment costs money. Many of our customers have to balance the benefits of initiatives such as creating floral displays and keeping the streets tidy with shrinking budgets. So, is the money that is spent on community projects such as brightening community areas, entering Britain in Bloom and funding litter facilities and campaigns really worth it?