Nantwich wins 2010 Community Prize award (with audio)
PUBLISHED: 16:49 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:10 20 February 2013
Nantwich took top prize in this year's Community Pride competition, but what set it apart from the rest? Paul Mackenzie reports
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Of all the awards handed out to towns and villages few can say as much about the spirit of a place as the Community Pride awards. Not simply concerned with floral displays, well-tended gardens or clean streets, the annual awards reward genuine heartfelt care for the community.
Nantwich carried off the top prize again this year - much to competition organiser Sylvia Battys dismay - and many of the towns charms are obvious. But the judges here are looking beyond the beautiful timber framed buildings and the 100+ listed buildings.
We are looking for evidence that the place has been well cared for over a period of time, Sylvia said. We want to see that a place is well looked after. Its not just about the streets, but the gardens, footpaths and other areas - as the name suggests its about the whole community having and showing pride in where they live and making it the best it can be. Its continuous care we are interested in.
And by winning the top award two years running, Nantwich has proved it has the necessary consistency but Sylvia added: I didnt want Nantwich to win this year. I hate it when the same place wins twice in a row because I think that could put other places off. But it was a deserved win.
In spring, volunteer judges make at least two secret visits to each town and village that enters the annual competition, with further visits to the most promising places taking place throughout the summer.
The judges send their marking sheets - complex forms divided into several categories - to Sylvia who collates the information. The prizes were awarded this year at a ceremony held, appropriately enough, at Nantwich Civic Hall.
We are not looking for the prettiest village, and were not Britain in Bloom, so were not looking for plants, baskets and pots everywhere either, Sylvia said. If a row of shops is very neat and tidy they will not be marked down if there are no plants, but they may get extra marks if there are.
This is the 55th year and were indebted to Shell UK for their sponsorship. I think it started with the Keep Britain Tidy movement when community councils all over the country ran similar schemes. This is still the original competition, although the title changed when other awards were added.
There are some difficulties in judging the larger places and maybe we ought to concentrate on the older centre than the housing estates on the outskirts. Ill be discussing all this with some of the experienced judges at meetings before the end of the year and then in January the letters will go out to every village in Cheshire inviting them to enter next years competition.
We had 56 villages and towns enter this year but in a lot of cases it comes down to the enthusiasm of a few dedicated individuals.
One such individual is 72-year-old Doug Butterill. A former landscape gardener, he is now the tree warden for Nantwich and is one of the team responsible for the towns success. But he is quick to acknowledge the role played by people across the town.
There is a tremendous depth of involvement, which Im very pleased about, he said. Theres a lot of community involvement, the churches, the school, Guides and all sorts of other groups get involved and we have to thank the borough council for their support too.
I would like to think its that community involvement that sets us apart. Everyone in the town contributes in one way or another - shops, pubs, even the police station and fire station have lovely gardens.
There is an awful lot of civic pride in Nantwich - whenever I go into town people would ask me how weve done and when the results are expected.
The award is one of those extra little things that helps bring people in to the town and keep the town vibrant.
And the winner is
1 Upton by Chester
* Judges had placed Winwick second but no representatives from the village attended the ceremony and the award was re-allocated
2 Eaton village with Rushton
3 Lower Peover
1 Marbury cum Quoisley
3 Pott Shrigley
Most improved award
Plumley, Toft and Bexton