End of an era for champion village

THE Scots village whose floral displays have earned it the title of Britain's most beautiful community has decided to no longer take part in competitions.

Falkland, in Fife, has enjoyed more than two decades of unprecedented success.

At a glittering Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in September, it was awarded the Champion of Champions title by the Royal Horticultural Society for an unprecedented second year in a row.

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But members of Falkland in Bloom say they will no longer enter local or national competitions - including Britain in Bloom. Secretary Bert Allan, 77, said that after 24 years, the time had come to concentrate on other issues in the village.

He said: "At a recent meeting of Falkland in Bloom, it was decided, with regret, that as a group we would retire from participating in campaigns, most notably Britain in Bloom. A few of us are growing old together and, regrettably, over the past few years, we have lost some key players and the positions have been very difficult to fill."

Mr Allan said he and his fellow members were "deeply shocked" last week when their celebrity volunteer, the Paralympic curler Frank Duffy, 51, was found dead inside a vehicle on fire in a public car park in the village, although this was not the reason for their decision.

The discovery was made hours before he was due to face sex offence allegations in court. Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

Falkland In Bloom is a voluntary group formed 24 years ago.