‘Terrific’ triumph in village contest

IT might actually be a town, but Clare is celebrating being named Suffolk’s Village of the Year.

The community, near Sudbury, was announced as the winner of this year’s competition, which is run by the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC).

While technically being a town, Clare entered the large village category due to the size of its population – and won due to its strong sense of community.

Many groups from the village came out to try to win over the judges – including BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy – during the final judging round at the community centre on Saturday .

Clare Parish Council chairman Keith Haisman said everyone was “delighted” with the result, which was announced yesterday .

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He said: “The Village of the Year is about community spirit and community action so it’s great for the town to be recognised in this way.

“The people who put these things on, the volunteers who go to committee meetings on long winter nights – it’s absolute credit to them and recognition and that’s great for them. It’s terrific.”

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Mr Haisman said Clare had 70-plus community organisations, from Clare Women’s Institute to Clare Youth Club.

He said some recent community achievements had been the outdoor swimming pool at the middle school, which can now be used by the community in the summer holidays, and there is now a First Responders group, which provides emergency help to residents of Clare and the surrounding areas.

Mr Haisman also mentioned Clare Coffee Stop, which is an advice drop-in service at the community centre, and the next big project in the pipeline is a mud and grass BMX track by Nethergate Street.

In the competition final Clare beat Wickham Market and Moulton for the top spot.

Jane Cole, deputy chief executive officer for SALC, said: “I think it was the sense of community. That came through very strongly and there is a very active parish council.

“All the entries were very impressive and I believe the scoring was extremely close - just a few points between them all.

“The standard of the whole competition was very high. To get into the final three this year was quite a feat in itself. It was very tough.”

Clare had already won first place in the St Edmundsbury Borough round, winning �500. The prize for first place overall is �1,000, a plaque, a certificate and a firkin of beer.

Mr Haisman said the prize money would go back to community groups.

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