A POPULAR gardening competition in the city could be shut down due to a lack of volunteers.

Volunteers at Southampton In Bloom (SIB), a contest which aims to encourage a colourful outside environment in Southampton, are now urging people to help organise the yearly event.

Although the free competition has been running in the city for 30 years, the event has been organised by a group of unpaid volunteers for the last eight years.

However, they lost half of its organising team after two members died and others being unable to devote their time.

Now, the floral event could cease to exist this year unless they recruit at least five more volunteers.

Judge Margaret Whittaker, who is on the SIB committee, said: "It would be a shame if the competition ceased to exist for want of a few more willing hands around the organising table.

"It has been really noticeable and there has been quite a major drop in people who can help organise things."

Those who volunteer will be expected to help with fundraising events, including tombola stalls, planning of the event from February onwards, and act as one of the judges during the July competition.

She added: "We have a lot to do, as we start judging in July and we need to start printing entry forms, raising money for prizes, and provide plug plants and compost trays for the under-16s competition.

"If the competition is to run for 2020, we desperately need more people to join the group as soon as possible. We want to encourage a better-looking city, and if we don't get enough people organising it, it would put pressure on the remaining few."

An entry from the public could be a single hanging basket or tub, a courtyard, balcony or walkway, formal flowerbeds, a cottage garden, a wildlife garden or a garden in a care setting, as well as special categories for under-16s and public or commercial premises such as pubs, restaurants and libraries.

To help, contact sotoninbloom@gmail.com or call 07585 677866.