Two villages in the Sleaford area are celebrating being named as winners in the Lincolnshire Best Kept Village and Small Towns Competition.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England announced the winners and runners up yesterday (Tuesday) with Leasingham being named winner of the medium sized villages (population 1,0001-2,500) class; and Heckington being named winner in the large villages (population 2,501-7,000) section.
Coleby has also been named runner up in the small villages section (population 100-1,000).
Each winner will receive a plaque and certificate.
The competition in Lincolnshire is in its 55th year and is, for many rural communities, an essential part of the annual calendar.
Chairman of CPRE Lincolnshire Tim Machin said: “We are delighted to announce this year’s winners and runners up’. The standard this year was
very high and it is great to see so many communities taking such pride in the place where they live.”
Heckington Parish Council chairman Coun Jan Palmer was staggered to hear the news, as the village had only been persuaded by new member Midge Collins to re-enter the contest this year after several years’ absence.
Coun Palmer said they had previously been disappointed by the lack of recognition for their efforts but was more than willing to be proved wrong.
She said the last time the village won was in 1984, saying of this year’s campaign: “There was a lot of effort put by Coun Midge Collins, who has since moved away, and other residents, tidying up, litter picking and weeding. I am chuffed to bits.
“Our caretaker works diligently, our cemetery is immaculate and the allotments are looking good. Dave Couzens, the steward at the playing field has done his bit. It is great that the village effort has been seen as a whole with villagers seen to be doing their bit.”
Leasingham Parish Council chairman Jonathan Franks was “bowled over” by the news of his village’s win.
He said: “It is something I thought we would never win. We are not like some villages that have natural advantages of a nice stream running through and ducks with grassy areas. We have a lovely village but just not like that.
“Everything has just come together. Earlier in the year the county council announced it was cutting back on grass cutting in the village and so we asked everybody to do their boundaries or take special care and the residents have responded.”
He said: “We had a walk round the village two months ago and all felt how nice it looked, with everybody doing their bit it is probably better than when the council did it. You are going to take more pride in your own patch.”
Coun Franks even went round mowing some bits with his own tractor.
The village scored highly on its village hall and its natural area for wildlife developed by resident Ian Cox.
Coun franks said: “I don’t think we have ever won it before, we’ve not even got into the last round, so it is really nice for something good to happen in our village.”
Lincolnshire’s competition, run by the CPRE started in 1962 and is one of the largest operating.
Communities enter each year and are visited by a panel of judges who assess the entrants against the following criteria:
* Overall appearance and condition - Absence of litter, unauthorised / unsightly refuse, absence of graffiti / vandalism, dumps on verges, general condition of roads and paths.
* Green Spaces - Provision for wildlife (such as bird boxes / feeders, bat boxes) and wildflowers is encouraged. The general appearance of: public greens, trees, ponds, streams, dykes, parks, nature areas, hedges, gardens, and allotments will be assessed, as will the condition of footpaths, stiles, field gates, signposting and children’s play areas.
* Public Premises - The condition of town halls, community centres, public halls, sports facilities, playing fields, schools and playgrounds, market places will be assessed as will shelters, public seats, notice boards, bus stops and signs, telephone boxes and car parks. Cleanliness of public toilets and road signs.
* Private Premises - The collective appearance of private gardens, hedges, fences and walls.
* Religious buildings and memorials - The condition of churchyards, cemeteries, chapel surrounds, war memorials and their notice boards, if in public ownership
* Business Premises - The collective appearance of business property including inns, farms and farmyards, workshops, post office, shops and caravan sites.
* Overall community effort - Evidence of community spirit and activity and initiative in the care of the parish and its environment.