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Former Felixstowe family ‘delighted’ to win Beach Hut of the Year 2016 after tragic loss

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:45 22 August 2016

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Television presenter Phil Spencer with Anna Davies, owner of My Happy Hut, who is announced as winner of the Towergates Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016.  The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Television presenter Phil Spencer with Anna Davies, owner of My Happy Hut, who is announced as winner of the Towergates Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

A mother-of-three has expressed her “delight” at winning Beach Hut of the Year 2016 – five years on from the “traumatic” death of her husband.

The exterior of the award-winning My Happy Hut, in Dovercourt BayThe exterior of the award-winning My Happy Hut, in Dovercourt Bay

When former Felixstowe resident Anna Davies, 44, bought a beach hut in Dovercourt Bay two years ago, she and her three children – Lily, Harry and Poppy Baria – were recovering from the loss of their husband and father, Inderjit Baria.

Mr Baria, who died unexpectedly in 2011, had lived with his family in the seaside town for several years.

But when he passed away their family home became a constant reminder of his death – leading the family to Harwich, where they set up a new home.

Now the accolade, won by “Betty” the beach hut in Mersea last year, has made a “dream come true” for artist Anna, who describes her hut – voted the best in the UK – as a “little piece of happiness” on the Essex coast.

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Anna Davies, owner of ÔMy Happy HutÕ, who is announced as winner of the TowergateÕs Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Anna Davies, owner of ÔMy Happy HutÕ, who is announced as winner of the TowergateÕs Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

“It was very traumatic in the months after his [Inderjit’s] death,” said the 44-year-old. “I wanted to create a place that would be happy for people using it.”

“For me, it’s a little piece of happiness.

“My youngest daughter Poppy came up with the polka-dot design, and we’ve been working hard on it for a while now.”

But entering the national competition – which was judged by an expert panel including Location, Location, Location presenter Phil Spencer and Sunday Times journalist Charlotte Vowden – was a last-minute decision for the mum-of-three.

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Television presenter Phil Spencer inside ÔMy Happy HutÕ, owned by Anna Davies (right) who is announced as winner of the TowergateÕs Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Television presenter Phil Spencer inside ÔMy Happy HutÕ, owned by Anna Davies (right) who is announced as winner of the TowergateÕs Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

She added: “My friends encouraged me to enter the competition – but I didn’t actually enter until three weeks before.

“It was all a bit last minute but I’m so glad I did it. Poppy and I spent evenings and weekends painting it and finishing it off – it was only completed the day before the closing date for entries.

“We are so delighted that we have won – when we got the call, which was about ten days ago so we had to keep it a secret.

“All of us screamed and jumped up and down.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Anna Davies (centre), owner of My Happy Hut, with daughters Lily (aged 19 left) and Poppy (aged 11 right), who is announced as winner of the Towergates Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016.  The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA WireEDITORIAL USE ONLY Anna Davies (centre), owner of My Happy Hut, with daughters Lily (aged 19 left) and Poppy (aged 11 right), who is announced as winner of the Towergates Beach Hut of the Year Awards 2016, Dovercourt, Essex. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 19, 2016. The beach hut has a fairy-tale interior with glass double doors, windows and a drawbridge, which drops down to create a decked area. Photo credit should read: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

“We never even dreamed we’d get this far. It’s amazing and we’re so happy right now, it’s a dream come true.”

The award-winning hut has a distinctive drawbridge entrance and an “unusually spacious” interior.

On Friday, judge Phil Spencer visited My Happy Hut – presenting Anna with her £1,000 prize money.

She was also given a year’s free beach hut insurance and a commemorative plaque to hang inside the hut.

Harwich and Dovercourt Beach Hut Association will also benefit from the award, and are set to receive £500 as part of the prize.

Two other Essex beach huts landed a spot in this year’s top ten – Millie at Walton-on-the-Naze, and Hut 303 in Brightlingsea.

And last year’s winner, Jane Ashmore from West Mersea, was a judge for the 2016 competition.

To book a stay in My Happy Hut, Beach Hut of the Year 2016, visit myhappyhut.com.

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