Suffolk: Celebration as Whatfield wins Village of the Year title
- Credit: Gregg Brown
There were scenes of jubilation as people celebrated their home village’s victory in a prestigious county-wide competition.
Whatfield, near Hadleigh, was crowned this year’s Suffolk Village of the Year, beating off stiff competition from runners-up Mendham and Withersdale and third-placed Worlington.
Sponsored by the East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk Magazine and UK Power Networks, the award aims to highlight all that is great about village life in Suffolk.
Judge and BBC Radio Suffolk DJ Lesley Dolphin announced the village’s victory on her radio show this afternoon.
She said: “The judges were particularly impressed with the way the whole community is involved in the village - we met members of the Whatfield players right through to the people who looked after the village paths and the primary school.”
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Whatfield parish councillor David Cross said there were tears in many people’s eyes as the village’s victory was announced.
“People genuinely couldn’t believe that we had won and they had tears in their eyes,” he added. “We are absolutely delighted with the news.
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“Our success is down to Helen Landon, she is a little dynamo and was the driving force behind our entry. “We’re only a village of about 350 people and she really grabbed the bull by the horns and gave us a lovely children’s playground. She raised an awful lot of money and badgered the lottery people for funding for it.
“We are not a pretty village that’s for sure, but because of the level of community involvement, we have got some lovely conservation areas filled with orchids and wildflowers.”
Mr Cross said Whatfield Primary School is fundamental to the village.
He added: “Since we have been in the village, we have lost two shops, a pub and post office. Everything has gradually melted away but when The Four Horseshoes pub closed, we opened The Five Horseshoes in the village hall.
“The village hall has been totally transformed over the past five years.”
After visiting the village in July, the judges hailed the links between the school, refurbished village hall and community as well as the village’s efforts for affordable housing to be built.
They highlighted the variety of organisations, village website and twice yearly magazine, Grapevine.
The contest was organised by the Suffolk Association of Local Councils.
Second placed Mendham and Withersdale were commended for the way the two communities work together to work as one, while Worlington, which came third, was praised for its vast array of popular community events.