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Flowerfest flourishes as inaugural event attracts big crowds

Walter Swan, Jamie Hill and Lady Haughey were delighted to open the Flowerfest

Over 1,700 people flocked to Castlebank Park last weekend for Lanark’s first-ever Flowerfest, celebrating all things horticulture in the area.

The festival, organised by the Lanark Community Development Trust, celebrated the horticultural revival of the Clyde Valley and the Royal Burgh, with a packed weekend of Royal Wedding-themed floral fun.

Local garden centres, schools and nurseries got the chance to exhibit their patio, container and fairy gardens, with prizes awarded throughout the weekend for the most creative horticultural designs, many of which took inspiration from Harry and Meghan’s big day.

FlowerFest kicked off last Friday with an official opening ceremony by Lady Susan Haughey, Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire, and Lanark’s very own Chelsea Pensioner, 86-year-old Walter Swan.

Walter was delighted to see so many people attend the event last weekend and has fond memories of the town, including many visits to Castlebank Park.

He told The Lanark Website: “I’ve always had a happy childhood in Lanark. I was always on the go, travelling all over the place. I really enjoyed life.

“I left Lanark when I was 18, I joined the Royal Air Force. I spent 14 years and attached to the Army for a while then transferred into the Army eventually. I finished up doing 23 years in total, 14 in the RAF and nine in the Army.

“Now I am in Chelsea, retired and more than pleased to be down there. It’s a wonderful place to be - it’s hectic! There are about 300 pensioners in there at the moment of all ages, some are even getting to the hundreds. It’s just one big happy family. We’re all in the same boat, we’ve all served in the forces -  we’ve all had the same experiences - we can all relate to each other and what we’ve done. It’s wonderful.

“It’s good to see events like this starting up, it’s brilliant. I hope this will be the start of something good and it will get better and better each year. I’ll be up here every year!”

The Flowerfest was the idea of Jamie Hill from the Lanark Community Development Trust and he hopes that the occasion will become a key event in the local calendar.

“This whole event is to celebrate the horticultural heritage of Clydesdale,” he said. “What was once tomato houses is now this amazing array of garden centres during the whole of the Clyde Valley, and at the top of that is Lanark where we have our own community horticultural centre. We also have Lanark in Bloom who keep the town looking at its best.

“We hope this is going to be the first of what becomes an annual event. We’re looking forward to the centenary of Lanark Flowerfest in 100 years’ time!”

There were plenty of other attractions to keep visitors entertained over the weekend. The Royal Wedding theme continued with a wedding posy competition, followed by Pimms, prosecco and afternoon tea.

Other highlights included a guest lecture from David Knott, curator of the Living Collection at Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, performances by local theatre groups, live music, a craft marquee and a number of events at local churches.