THE world is gripped by the the worst pandemic in living memory.

Life has changed monumentally since the outbreak of coronavirus with people now being in lockdown.

Businesses are closed and only shops selling essential items are open.

And as we hanker for normality, another blow has been dealt to everyday life.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom competition has been cancelled this year.

It is not quite on the scale of the postponed of the Olympics or the football Euros but it is a quintessential part of British life and for those involved, its loss is felt acutely.

The Britain in Bloom competition involves about 3,500 community groups with more than 250,000 volunteers taking part every year.

In Bloom groups from all over the country compete to show off their towns, cities and villages, celebrating the best floral displays and communities.

However, with the nation on lockdown in the grips of Covid-19, there will be no in Bloom competition this year.

In a statement, a Britain in Bloom spokesman said: “This is a worldwide and unprecedented challenging time for so many people and, of course, the health and safety of communities, volunteers and judges remains our number one priority.

“With the Government advising everyone to follow social distancing measures, it is sadly not currently possible for finalists to carry out their usual community gardening activities.

“Communities put huge year-round effort into Britain in Bloom to the benefit of both people and the environment and we know our 70 finalists will be disappointed.

“The decision has not been taken lightly and we hope many groups will want to participate again in 2021.

“We thank those involved for all the hard work they’ve put in so far to make the UK a cleaner, greener and more beautiful place, and their amazing community spirit that will be very important to people in the difficult times ahead.”

One group that is certainly disappointed is Colchester in Bloom.

Angling for 2020 success, the group has won gold and silver medals in the past.

But Pam Schomberg, chairwoman of Colchester in Bloom, said she understood the decision.

She said: “I can see Britain in Bloom would have no choice but to cancel the competition this year.

“There is so much prep to be done in advance of the judges visiting and it is not just the floral displays.

“It is an all year round commitment so evidence of things happening and how the town looks in winter and spring, not just the summer.

“This is all community based, so without people being able to get together, running the competition is not a possibility.

“Regardless, we are still planing for all the town’s floral displays to go out for the summer, which this year should prove to be the best ever, together with both our Colchester in Bloom boxes and the BID boxes.

“We will all need something like this to lift the spirits once we can leave our homes.

“We are still intending to run our own internal Colchester in Bloom competition in July which includes all businesses, churches, front gardens and such.

“With people being tied to home this year, come the summer we should all have extraordinary gardens to be proud of.

“For those of us that are lucky enough to have one, a garden will prove to be a godsend during this horrendous time.

The multi-award winning Halstead in Bloom was disappointed by philosophical.

Halstead in Bloom secretary Julia Smith said: “The team are, naturally, disappointed. We are, however, not surprised and we do fully support the need to keep judges and all residents safe.

“The judges travel the length and breadth of the UK so obviously it is right this possible transfer of infection is curbed.

“We do intend to carry on with our Halstead in Bloom work this year although we will have to change our working practises and we will, of course, comply with all Government directives.

“We hope the town will continue to support our efforts and if anyone feels like deadheading or pulling some weeds to get exercise the please do so, working safely.”