OVER the past few days we have been publishing our interviews with the winners at this year's Pride of St Helens Award.

We have a 16-page supplement of the awards night complete with all images and the interviews for sale in shops across St Helens inside last Thursday's St Helens Star, all costing just 80p.

The next award interview we are publishing is that of Bold In Bloom, who won the Pride of Place award.

Launching in 2022, Bold in Bloom had a vision of improving the look of the local area and bringing the community together after the difficulties of the pandemic.

While placing planters and flowers around Bold, the group has encouraged those who may be socially isolated or suffering from mental health problems to get out into a friendly and welcoming environment.

The “driving force” in getting Bold in Bloom going is Donna Watkins, who could not make the awards as she suffers from social anxiety.

Collette Smith and Chris Hughes collected the award on behalf of Donna and the wider Bold in Bloom group, and said that Donna wanted others to know why she could not make the event, to let others know there is nothing to be ashamed of with mental health struggles.

Collette and Chris said: “It’s absolutely amazing to win this award, and it’s all down to Donna and the team who have been absolutely incredible.

“Donna has been the real driving force behind the group and she is a force to be reckoned with. The idea came out of lockdown because she understood that there must be so many people isolated and struggling with their mental health.

“She has encouraged so many people to come and help out and it has not only made our area a visually better place, but it has really given the community a purpose.”

In addition to helping those with mental health struggles, elderly people who suffered from isolation is another big focus for the Bold in Bloom group.

The volunteers have also worked with Torus housing to take on projects on land owned by Torus in a bid to mitigate cuts in spending, again helping the community, especially those in social housing.

Judges hailed the group for making a huge difference to the area.

Highly commended in this category were community group Sutton Wombles and St Helens and Whiston Hospital gardeners David J Platt Landscapes.