THE MAN who has led Bury in Bloom to national and international achievements for a generation was himself honoured at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 13.
But Mike Ames, who stepped down this week after 25 years as chairman of Bury St Edmunds In Bloom, was not there to receive the prestigious Roy Lacey Award at a VIP event in Colchester.
Sadly, former mayor, councillor and teacher Mr Ames, now 74, has not been well and was forced to miss the ceremony, at which the latest Anglia In Bloom awards for cities, towns, individuals and special projects were revealed.
And his absence caught judges and organisers off guard as they had planned to make the award a surprise for Mr Ames, who is actually president of Anglia In Bloom.
And he managed to give organisers the slip once more when judging chairman George Dawson, travelled to his home to hand over the award, a specially-turned wooden rose bowl, carrying Mr Ames’ name.
For Mr Ames had summoned the energy to leave his Bury home that night to attend his last-ever meeting as chairman of Bury In Bloom and missed Mr Dawson by minutes.
Instead, Mr Dawson handed it to Mike’s wife Monica.
Mr Dawson said: “He knew nothing about it. It was all done so very secretly and we were all disappointed he was not able to attend the ceremony. It would have been a lovely surprise.”
Mr Ames said: “I think it is a most appropriate and wonderful accolade to receive on the day I stepped down as chairman of Bury In Bloom. While I am the recipient, it is a tribute to the community spirit of the whole town.”
The award, named after the late Roy Lacey, a former chairman of Anglia In Bloom judges, is presented each year to the person considered to have made a major contribution to the In Bloom movement at all levels.
The citation read: “Mike has been president of Anglia in Bloom for more years than he possibly cares to remember.
“He has also been involved with Bury in Bloom even longer, retiring as its chairman this year. During his tenure he oversaw their entry into the regional, national and also international stages.
“They have had phenomenal success, being the winner of the Large Town title in Anglia no fewer than ten times in the last 15 years. They were winners of Britain in Bloom in 1988, 1999 and again in 2007, runners-up in Ente’Florale 1989 and winners of World in Bloom 1999 and 2000.
“Mike was one of the original members who started Anglia in Bloom in 1996 and has been involved ever since. He is also on the judging panel and when the judges were provided with a blazer and tie Mike still insisted on wearing his signature bow tie.”
Simon Pott takes over as chairman of Bury in Bloom.