SMILING faces and beautifully blossomed floral displays welcomed the visit of Anglia in Bloom judges.

Halstead welcomed the annual visit of judges on Friday, as the town's floral credentials were showcased.

After picking up a host of top prizes last year, including being named the best town in the Anglia region, committed volunteers guided the judges through the town’s beauty spots, boosted by cheery members of the public and school children at every stop.

This year’s presentations included a display celebrating 70th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip along the Causeway, while judges also visited the new garden at Halstead Resource Centre, entered into ‘Best Garden for Special Needs’ category.

Halstead Public Gardens took centre stage for part of the tour, with Braintree Council organising a ‘Love Parks’ event.

Julia Smith, founding member of Halstead in Bloom, said: “When the lead judge, Sue Hacon, gave a speech at lunch, she said it wasn’t like returning to the town to judge, it was like returning to see old friends, which was really nice.

“The judges were both very impressed with Holy Trinity School’s Gardening Club, as well as Colin Bailey’s grow your own patch, which he has created from essentially a scrub verge.”

Judges, Sue Hacon and Margaret Albinson, were selected to pass judgement on the town, and broke from usual protocol to stick to strict time limits, to spend additional time talking to pupils at Holy Trinity Primary School about their impressive Gardening Club.

As always, the tour was completed with a lunch, courtesy of the High Street’s oldest business, the ever-popular Humes Bakery.

Results will be announced in September, with visit of Britain in Bloom judges on July 31.