A DOUBLING of efforts by the dedicated team responsible for the beauty and upkeep of Hillingdon's parks, gardens and open spaces has paid off in spades.
The borough was awarded a Silver Gilt certification in the large city category of the London in Bloom Awards on Friday (19) night.
It is a step up from a three year consecutive run of Silvers and represents the penultimate step in Hillingdon Council's journey towards an elusive Gold award.
Organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, London in Bloom is one of eighteen regions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that make up Britain in Bloom.
The Gazette was at the ceremony, held at the Honourable Artillery Company, in Moorgate, London, and got to see the delight on the faces of the representatives from the borough as they picked up the certificate.
Mary Worrall, head of highways and green spaces, said: "This demonstrates fully the hard work put in by everyone in the council and the local community. Gold is a very very hard award to win but we set ourselves very high standards and a silver gilt shows we are nearer than ever to achieving those aims."
Deputy Mayor of London, and Hillingdon Councillor, Richard Barnes was guest of honour and became the first representative of the mayor's office to be present since the awards began in 2000.
He said: "This is a fantastic occasion. It is ordinary people, doing ordinary things but with extra ordinary results. I congratulate Hillingdon's team for a thoroughly deserved award and look forward to being much more closely involved in the whole event in future."
There was further reason to celebrate for Hillingdon as airport operator BAA picked up the first place award for Best Business Premises for its whole Heathrow Airport site and a separate Outstanding Landscape award for Terminal 5.
Paul Green, BAA landscape manager, was in shock and said: "I am ecstatic, I really never thought this would happen as we have never even entered before.
"Heathrow has around 1,200 hectares of land to maintain and it is credit to our contractors Hasmead and Glendale that this award has been made possible."
This Thursday will see local residents and organisations finding out who has won what in the annual Hillingdon In Bloom awards ceremony to be held in the Mayor's Parlour of the Civic Centre from 3pm.