Anyone who has donned their wellies, picked up a shovel and joined one of Crawley Borough Council’s Let’s FACE It! projects will recognise Ruth Growney.
And anyone who has leaned against said shovel for a quick breather and witnessed her boundless enthusiasm for her work will agree that she more than deserved the Community Champion award she received at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Guernsey.
And Ruth, who had no idea she had won anything until her name was called out in front of hundreds of guests, has praised the people of Crawley for the “fantastic” way they have embraced the project.
She said: “Initially we thought that people would react in an adverse way – thinking that what we were suggesting was the reason why they paid their council tax.
“But once people understand that ‘together we can make a difference’ their reaction is totally different.
“I don’t think we ever expected Let’s FACE it! to be so successful but it just goes to show how fantastic the people of Crawley are and how much they care about where they live.”
Ruth, 57, is Crawley born and bred, growing up in Northgate and now living with her husband and sons in Tilgate,
She has been honoured for her work at a local level in the past with recognition at the Let’s FACE It! awards, but to be singled out at the Britain in Bloom is something she is still trying to take in.
Ruth said: “I did not know until the actual awards ceremony itself and my name was announced -so shock was the first reaction – then I felt immensely honoured and proud to have been recognised nationally for doing a job that I absolutely love.”
Of all the projects she has spearheaded, Ruth cites Bewbush Water Gardens in 2008 as the most challenging but also her favourite.
She said: “There were over 250 volunteers – a logisitical nightmare with a massive amount of pre-project planning – but on the day everyone stepped up to the mark.
“There was a team of staff from the council with vehicles, tools and chippers. I remember seeing all these volunteers arriving from every direction and thinking ‘how on earth is this going to work?’ – but it did.
“We were faced with the worst weather of that year with torrential rain all day but nobody gave up, we just soldiered on. I have never been so wet in my life!”