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Celebration time for Essex villages

Celebration time for Essex villages

A village in North East Essex which has seen a real upsurge in community activities in recent years is celebrating after claiming the top prize in this year’s Essex Village of the Year and Best Kept Village Competition. The competition is organised by Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE), sponsored by Essex & Suffolk Water and Worldbridge Ltd. and supported by Essex Life.

Alresford, in Tendring District, beat off strong competition notably from Messing and Gosfield, placed second and third respectively, to clinch the prestigious Essex Village of the Year award for 2012. The three villages receive prizes of £500, £150 and £100, provided by sponsors Essex & Suffolk Water. A fourth finalist, Cold Norton, received a Highly Commended certificate. The awards were presented at the Annual General Meeting of RCCE held at Writtle College on Thursday 5th July.

Alresford impressed the judges with its very strong community spirit and drive to improve the quality of life for local residents. The Alresford Community Leisure Project, to be completed this September, will extend and modernise the village hall and sports pavilion. There are also plans to extend the parish church which already hosts a wide range of community activities, including an internet and book cafe. The village’s only pub, The Pointer, has really come alive again in recent years and provides another focal point for local events.

The competition, organised annually by Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) also includes the popular Best Kept Village in Essex awards, sponsored this year by Worldbridge Ltd., consultant electrical and mechanical engineers. This year’s 5 individual class winners, who each receive £150, were Brightlingsea, Theydon Bois, Great Bentley, Rivenhall and Messing.

RCCE Director, Nick Shuttleworth, paid tribute to Alresford, which has a population of 2,250 inhabitants:

“Our competition is all about rewarding vibrant, enterprising and caring villages, a description that sums up Alresford very well. Our judges met with people of all ages who were really passionate about the place.”

He went on: “Messing, as a very close runner-up, deserves great credit as well. The refurbished village hall is a wonderful asset for this very small community, which is also working hard to get better broadband.”

The other two Village of the Year prize winners were Gosfield and Cold Norton. Gosfield, who came third for the second consecutive year, has set up a Young Growers Club to encourage children to make use of the new village allotments. At Cold Norton, which was highly commended, local residents have successfully stepped in to keep the local pub alive.

Nick Shuttleworth paid tribute to all this year’s winning villages:

“This competition showcases so much that is good about rural life in Essex today. Our judges were enormously impressed by the enterprise, commitment and sheer hard work of the dedicated volunteers who do so much for our rural communities, especially in these difficult economic times.”

Sarah Bowerman, Corporate Responsibility Advisor for Essex & Suffolk Water, sponsors of the Essex Village of the Year awards said: “We are passionate about supporting the local community, so it is a privilege to sponsor these awards to recognise the fantastic achievement of the residents of the winning villages.”

Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) is a registered charity that works to sustain rural communities throughout Essex, helping them take action on issues such as access to services, affordable housing and the provision of village halls. It also acts as a voice for rural people on key issues. RCCE has run this competition annually since 1955.

Further information from Nick Shuttleworth on 01376 574330 or e-mail; nick.shuttleworth@essexrcc.org.uk

For general information on Rural Community Council of Essex go to www.essexrcc.org.uk

The full list of winners can be downloaded here