UPTON was still looking its blooming best despite the gloomy skies and pouring rain as it welcomed the judges from Heart of England in Bloom.

Although their two-hour visit was hit by downpours from start to end, Robin Russell and Ken Whittaker could not fail to be impressed by the town’s floral displays and the efforts of the community to keep it looking at its best.

Their tour took in the town cemetery, chapel and allotments, Upton Primary, The Ham and the Waterfront, where they were shown the town’s new flood defence wall.

They then met with Upton’s mayor Andrea Morgan and Worcestershire High Sheriff Penelope Lewis, before being ushered out of the rain and into the Tudor House Museum for lunch.

Upton has an admirable record of success in the competition, claiming a gold award every year since its first entry back in 2004.

It has also won the large village category on seven of those occasions and in 2008 was declared the Heart of England in Bloom overall winner.

Despite the unfavourable elements, Upton in Bloom chairman Jackie Surtees hopes the town will be going for gold once again.

“It went very well, in spite of the weather. It rained and rained, but we all had big brollies so we managed to get round the route without too many problems,” she said.

“Luckily the rain had not damaged the flowers too much and our displays survived relatively intact.”

“Overall it was a very successful day.

“The town looked very good and Malvern Hills District Council did a super job of making sure things were up to scratch.”

Mrs Surtees said the judges had been impressed with the finished flood wall on the waterfront – a project that was very much still a work in progress during previous visits.

“They said they did not know quite what to expect from it, but were pleasantly surprised by what they found,” she said.

Two new projects at Upton Primary School, a greenhouse made entirely of recycled plastic bottles and an oak tree planted to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, also drew particular praise.

Heart of England judges will be returning to the area to run the rule over Malvern’s efforts on Tuesday, and all entrants will then face a nervous wait until the results are announced during a ceremony in Birmingham in September.