A WIRRAL village is celebrating after winning gold in the North West in Bloom Awards for the third year running.

Oxton - famous for its annual Secret Gardens event – was crowned ‘Best Village in the Region’ for 2019 after wowing judges with an array of 50 magnificent hanging baskets that adorned the village centre.

It was the same award Oxton won last year and follows a successful debut in the competition in 2017 when it received gold in the Best Urban Community Class category as well as the Best Newcomer Trophy for the Secret Gardens.

North West in Bloom, held in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, attracts hundreds of entries and is judged throughout the summer.

The hanging basket displays - created by Burton’s Dovecote Nurseries - are the brainchild of the Oxton Society, which undertakes numerous projects to protect and preserve the historic village.

Committee member John Booth, whose job it is to look after the award-winning baskets, was invited to a special awards ceremony at Wallasey Town Hall last Monday, organised by Wirral Borough Council.

He said: “Over the past three years Oxton has been a front-runner in the competition winning eight awards, including three gold, which is fantastic.”

Society chair Rhiannon Evans said: “We are absolutely delighted to win again. These awards represent a huge amount of commitment, local pride and hard work by so many people.”

Since the Oxton Society launched the Secret Gardens in 2001, the event has raised more than £320,000 for local charities and helped fund vital conservation work within the village.

Over the years more than 50,000 enthusiasts have visited the gardens, most of which are hidden from view behind sandstone walls built from locally-quarried stone.

The society also has a blue plaque scheme which commemorates the birthplaces of Oxton luminaries, including Lt Col Philip Toosey, senior allied officer in the notorious Japanese prison camp, portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness, in Bridge on the River Kwai.

Also remembered are one-time sub postmistress, Edith Smith, who became Britain’s first warranted female police officer in 1915 - years before she could vote - and modernist composer Cyril Scott.

Tree planting, a building design award scheme and history tours all help further promote Oxton’s historic urban conservation area and business centre as the 800-plus member society grows from strength to strength in membership and achievement.