THE bells were ringing and the sun was shining for the visit of a Britain in Bloom judge to Halesowen.

Halesowen in Bloom organisers pulled out all the stops for Heart of England judge Graham Redfern on Monday.

The historic bells of St John the Baptist Church were rang to mark his arrival and Halesowen Ukulele Band provided music in Somers Square.

Mr Redfern, who had never visited the town centre before, said: "I am very impressed with Halesowen in Bloom and especially the community participation involved in this bid.

"What they have done in three or four months has been very impressive as a first effort and especially the partnership between the group and their partners including the council."

The judge was given a tour around the town by Halesowen in Bloom organisers and Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris.

Halesowen in Bloom chairman Eve O'Connor said: "We were blessed with sunshine for the judge's visit which was great and the town looked great.

"We had so many volunteers get in touch to help cleaning up the town and we are really proud of how good the town looks."

She added: “I cannot thank those who have contributed enough for what they have done over the last few weeks, it has been amazing."

As well as planting flowers Halesowen in Bloom volunteers cleaned up the streets and even repainted buildings to ensure the town looked its best.

Halesowen MP James Morris said: "The difference in the town since Halesowen in Bloom started a few months has been remarkable.

"You can really see a difference and the Halesowen in Bloom bid has really galvanised the town.

He added: "Everyone should be really proud of themselves for helping transform the town for the better."

Halesowen North Councillor Hilary Bills, who organised the Halesowen in Bloom Treasure Hunt, said: "To have so many people volunteer to help our bid really shows the community spirit we have in the town."

The Heart of England in Bloom awards are being held on Thursday, September 11 in Shrewsbury.