THE sun shone and food and plant stalls lined the streets of Presteigne last Bank Holiday Monday.

The shops threw open their doors, and the town thronged with bigger crowds than it has ever seen before.

Street food stalls occupied the courtyard behind St Andrew's Hall where the churchyard was full of families eating picnics on the grass in the sunshine. Visitors enjoyed a number of free entertainments and demonstrations. The stall holders and traders reported a very successful day with a great atmosphere throughout the town.

The open gardens raised £1886.36 for St Michael's Hospice, 'We're delighted that the open gardens during the Presteigne Food and Flowers Festival raised such a wonderful sum for St Michael's Hospice,' said Paddy Nugent, the hospice's community fundraising manager, 'Thanks to everyone who opened their garden and to the many generous visitors who donated.'

The event was organised by Connect, a reinvigoration of the Old Chamber of Trade. The chairman of Connect, Leon Abecasis, would like to take this opportunity of thanking the many supporters of the event in the community, without whom it could not have happened or been such a success.

Author Deborah Moggach commented, 'The most magical day - masses to do, to watch, to eat, to drink, and secret gardens to explore. A total triumph for the town, and the organisers. All three generations of my family, from 70 to three, enjoyed every minute.'

Terry Wells, secretary PACDG / editor community news said, 'It was just a wonderful day and a great event for the town. The weather was a huge bonus of course and I don't think I've ever seen so many people around Presteigne, some of whom will have been first-time visitors and have now seen the town at its best'.

Chris Ruby won the Presteigne Pie Competition with her pecan pie and Tom Carter won the Photographic Competition.

Norton Lions won the Ready Steady Cook competition with their talented team of Deb Edwards and John Wilding. The enthusiastic but ultimately defeated Presteigne Tigers team was Colin Kirkby and Cllr Bev Baynham. Writer, broadcaster and performer Ian Marchant expertly compered the competition.

The fundraising citrus feast was a great success on the Sunday night. Over 50 people were treated to a glorious evening that began with an apéritif in the sunshine outside St Andrew's Hall. Afterwards the guests moved indoors, where long tables were decorated with candles and beautiful tulips grown by local garden photographer Sabina Rüber. The delicious citrus inspired meal was cooked and served by Leon Abecasis and a team of local volunteers. During the meal guests were entertained by musicians Rich Gooderson and John Hymas, who performed Italian melodies, and Helena Attlee, who drew on her bestselling book The Land Where Lemons Grow to introduce each course.

The gazebos purchased for the festival will now be available to benefit future events. Connect donated over £3000, raised at fundraising events over the last two years, to the Town Council to enable them to buy ten pop up gazebos for the community which Connect used at the Food and Flower Festival.

These are now available for community groups to hire at no charge for community events. Any group wishing to hire one or more gazebos should contact the Presteigne Town Clerk at or by phone on 01547 528575.