Each year hundreds of individuals, groups and organisations come together to take part in the Best Kept Villages and Small Towns Competition. 2012 is the 50th Anniversary of the event and is set to attract even more villages and towns to the competition.
In 2011 127 villages in Lincolnshire entered the competition. Approximately 80 judges that travel hundreds of miles around Lincolnshire, marking each village or town that has entered and giving over 900 volunteer hours of their time. Each village or town is marked over six categories with a maximum of 20 points for each category and include some of the following: absence of litter, presentation of trees, ponds, streams, roads, paths, churchyard, business premises and the effort from the community.
Judging takes place over three rounds between May and August. The event is organised by Community Lincs and supported by the District and Local Councils, Pennells Garden Centre. The CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England). The CPRE has been involved with the event since it started in 1962.
Teresa Palmer is the main organiser of the event at Community Lincs, and she is currently trying to get Lottery funding to enable the history of the competition to be put together. She said: ‘The competition has been evolving over the years as populations have grown and momentum for the competition has gathered. We are expecting even more entries for 2012 with it being out 50th Anniversary and there will be more publicity and hopefully more sponsors involved this coming year.
The competition gives a focal point for the villages and towns and cohesion amongst the residents who want their village or town to do well.’ The village or town doesn’t have to be picturesque or quaint; it is about involvement from the community and taking pride in the presentation of their local area. Villages or towns that win the competition often draw in interest and tourism from other areas.
My old home town of Holbeach came runner up in the Small Market Town Class in 2011. This is the fourth time it has been runner up in this class, which shows that the town is maintaining its standard of presentation. Also, only four miles from Holbeach is Moulton, which came third in Class 2 in the same year. It is always humbling to see the town during the judging period with all its full bloom of brightly- coloured hanging baskets, freshly-trimmed hedges and verges, manicured gardens and litter-free roads and pavements.
There is a choice of five classes depending on the size of the village or town: Class 1 – population of 100-500; Class 2 – population of 501-2000; Class 3 – population of 2001 – 7000; Class 4 – small market towns to a population of 7000 and a past winners’ Class. Applications are sent out to the Parish Councils in March and the closing date for applications in the end of April.
For more information visit the Best Kept Villages and Small Town website here.