Village wins county's top award

WHEN community worker Ranleigh Attwood took over his new role in Earls Colne, he vowed he would turn it into the best-kept village in Essex.Five years later, he has achieved his ambition after the thriving community was crowned Essex Village of the Year and Best Kept Village.

WHEN community worker Ranleigh Attwood took over his new role in Earls Colne, he vowed he would turn it into the best-kept village in Essex.

Five years later, he has achieved his ambition after the thriving community was crowned Essex Village of the Year and Best Kept Village.

Earls Colne also received a special award to acknowledge its efforts in building community life in the competition, run by the Rural Community Council of Essex.

Mr Attwood, whose responsibilities include keeping the town tidy and planting flowers and shrubs, said: “I am very proud - the village has never got an award of any description and it seems we've leapfrogged to the top.


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“Now hopefully more people in the village will become aware we've won and take more pride. I think there's a very good community spirit in general.”

Nestling in the Colne Valley, Earls Colne has an array of services many other villages - faced with gradually losing their facilities - can only dream about. High Street shops include a supermarket, post office, hairdressers, butchers and a pharmacy plus stores offering soft furnishings, antiques and costume hire.

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The 1,200 villagers cannot provide enough labour for the number of businesses in the village and leisure is also well-served with two golf courses, pubs, restaurants, sports centres, the new millennium green, nature reserves and even a flying school.

Parish council chairman John Bendall said: “We think the village is a special place to live, work and play. It is nice to acknowledge the fact that a lot of people have put a lot of effort into winning this award.”

New initiatives, such as converting the old Atlas foundry site into an attractive business neighbourhood and village heritage museum, were praised by judges.

Frank Williams, a parish councillor and member of the museum management committee, said: “Earls Colne is a very well-recorded village and it seemed appropriate to record that history in the village. It is not large but it is very much appreciated by people. It is a great asset and all ages from primary schoolchildren upwards have been involved.”

The vicar, the Rev Vivien Brooks, added: “I think this win is absolutely wonderful. I have been here less than two years but love it. I congratulate the parish council and everyone involved in the entry.”

At the awards ceremony on Wednesday, Nick Shuttleworth, Rural Community Council of Essex community council director, praised the “comprehensive range of work opportunities” and the “wide range of leisure and community facilities”.

Other winners in the Best Kept Village competition, which has five classes, were Great Dunmow, Little Baddow and Messing. Runners-up included Coggeshall, Langham and Aldham.

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