Shapely mermaid wins best in show – North Herts duo wow Chelsea judges to scoop gold with their underwater-themed flower arrangement

The mermaid sculpture by Sue Papa and Miriam Hill

The mermaid sculpture by Sue Papa and Miriam Hill - Credit: Archant

Two gifted flower arrangers brought home the laurel wreathes for North Herts after bagging a top prize at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

The mermaid sculpture by Sue Papa and Miriam Hill

The mermaid sculpture by Sue Papa and Miriam Hill - Credit: Archant

Knebworth-based flower arranger Sue Papa and Walkern’s Miriam Hill, both veterans of the South Stevenage Flower Club, won Best Floral Arrangement Exhibit (1st Session) at the Royal Horticultural Society event and scooped a gold medal for their distinctive sea maiden themed arrangement in the Great Pavilion.

The pair chose to follow the Beneath The Waves theme but didn’t expect to win, as they felt the finished article was not as good as expected.

But when the judges came round on Monday morning after the pair spent the previous night meticulously completing their design which was made largely from calla lilies, they were more than pleasantly surprised.

Semi-retired Sue, who used to run florist shops in Borehamwood and then Cornwall before moving back to Knebworth to be with her family, said: “We had to put our thinking caps on and decide what to do.

Chelsea Sculpture

Chelsea Sculpture - Credit: Archant

“We wanted something that had a nice shape to it.

“We looked at lots and lots of pictures of mermaids, but the fact that mermaids are not real means we could kind of do whatever we wanted.

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“I think it won because it has a simple shape whereas lots of the others were very complicated.

“I was totally shocked that we won as when we were putting it together I wasn’t so pleased with it, but it was lovely.”

The experience was all the more poignant for the pair as former dress designer Miriam – who is 82 and has entered the competition before, winning a silver gilt medal with the Stevenage club – said it may be the last time she enters.

She told the Comet: “I was thinking it may be the last time, but never say never.

“We were absolutely delighted to win.

“When we looked around us a lot of the other clubs seemed to have spent an awful lot of money on flowers and ours seemed quite simple by comparison.”

And that wasn’t the only eye-catching contribution from North Herts at this year’s show.

Letchworth sculptor Patrick Hurst, 27, was commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society to produce a large mirrored steel sculpture, called Grand Mirror Form, for the show.

The work proved a big hit at the show. The back of the sculpture is mirrored to enable it to disappear into its environment, while the front is brightly coloured, inspired by the bright spring flowers of azaleas.

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