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Tonbridge Memorial Gardens highlighted in British Association of Landscape Industries awards

The company behind the transformation of Tonbridge Memorial Gardens has been given an award.

Blakedown Landscapes Operations, which was appointed by the Tonbridge Memorial Gardens Trust, has won an award in this year's British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) National Landscape Awards.

Over the past decade, attendance at the Tonbridge Memorial Gardens for the annual Remembrance Sunday Service has increased year on year.

Tonbridge Memorial Gardens
Tonbridge Memorial Gardens

The diminishing identity of the gardens as a memorial and the deteriorating condition of the memorial wall, the paving and the planting led to the creation of the Tonbridge Memorial Gardens Trust in 2010.

Chaired by Group Captain, Patrick Tootal OBE DL, the trust launched a campaign to raise the necessary funds to carry out the refurbishment works, with the success of the project relying on the generosity of local people, businesses and organisations.

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council put £25,000 into the pot to start the ball rolling and, with the assistance of the trust, external funding grants, and contributions from local housing developers, the project cost of just over £250,000 was fully met.

Wreaths and the new commemorative stone at Tonbridge Memorial Gardens
Wreaths and the new commemorative stone at Tonbridge Memorial Gardens

Blakedown Landscapes Operations was then appointed to create a fitting place to host the Remembrance Day services.

The company won its award within the Hard Landscaping category.

The BALI Awards, which are presented annually, pay tribute to landscape designers and contractors who have demonstrated a high standard of professionalism and skill.

As well as the construction and landscaping work, students from Tonbridge took part in a competition to work with internationally acclaimed sculptor Guy Portelli to help create a specially designed statue, known as ‘The Torch’.

A commemorative stone was also unveiled by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, during a special ceremony of re-dedication in September last year.

His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, shaking hands with sculptor Guy Portelli
His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, shaking hands with sculptor Guy Portelli

Captain Tootal said: “Many congratulations to Blakedown Landscapes Operations for their excellent work in helping to transform Tonbridge Memorial Gardens and create such a fitting tribute to all those who gave their lives for this country and whose names we honour.”

Nicolas Heslop, leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, said: “I’m delighted that the high quality of the landscaping work at the Memorial Gardens has received national recognition with this prestigious BALI Award.

"This was a true community project right from the start with the Trust working hard to secure the necessary funding, local students helping to design the memorial statue and, of course, the excellent landscaping skills of Blakedown Landscapes Operations.”

The Torch
The Torch

This is the second time that Tonbridge Memorial Gardens has been highlighted for praise.

Tonbridge Civic Society presented Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council with a Commendation Award for the project in April this year.

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