Little’ village reaches the top

HUNTINGDONSHIRE enjoyed a superb night at the Cambridgeshire ACRE awards last week, with many communities and individuals commended for their endeavours. ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) acknowledged the community spirit and hard work across

HUNTINGDONSHIRE enjoyed a superb night at the Cambridgeshire ACRE awards last week, with many communities and individuals commended for their endeavours.

ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) acknowledged the community spirit and hard work across the county on Tuesday evening in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Community Life Awards presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Hugh Duberly.

LITTLE PAXTON was named village of the year, with judges commending the way villagers work together to strive to improve the services and facilities in the settlement.

Alan Denison, chairman of Little Paxton Parish Council, said: "What makes the village so special is the community spirit with everybody working together.

"This award is not for the work of one individual, but for the whole town."

He added that the award recognised the amount of work the villagers had put into the community, work which started when Little Paxton began its successful fight to retain its doctors' surgery.

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Little Paxton will now go on to compete in the regional village of the year competition, which is sponsored by Calor.

ABBOTSLEY and WARBOYS were also on the shortlist for the award, meaning three out of the top four villages in the county were from Huntingdonshire.

BUCKDEN MILLENNIUM COMMUNITY CENTRE was named community building of the year.

The centre is operated by just three staff members but caters for countless different community groups. The centre is home to the St Neots Players and is home to a police drop-in service twice a week.

Run by the Buckden Village Hall Trust, the centre is able to offer heavily-subsidised services to members of the community.

Julie White, facility manager, said: "The centre has been through hard times but now it is so well-used by all aspects of the community.

"The centre is used by all ages, from pre-school to pensioners, and we are so proud of this award."

Judges commended the centre for the hard work and dedication of its management trust to provide facilities for local residents.

LIZ RAZZELL was praised for her exceptional volunteer work with a number of different organisations.

Mrs Razzell volunteers at Shopmobility Huntingdon on Thursdays, the information desk at Hinchingbrooke Hospital on Mondays, Age Concern in St Neots on Wednesdays and at Papworth Hospital as a visitor liaison on Sundays.

The Good Neighbours Scheme in HOLYWELL-CUM-NEEDINGWORTH was awarded the older people in the community award. Judges said that the scheme 'makes sure that anyone who wants neighbourly assistance can get it without feeling uncomfortable or beholden.'

Also recognised was the EATONS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, which was commended for bringing local history to life across the community.

The group received the heritage in the community award, sponsored by Archant, the owners of The Hunts Post. The group was recognised for its work with archivists and historians to provide better access to historical records, and bring history into everyday life.

The FRIENDS OF SOMERSHAM LIBRARY received the learning in the community award.

The group, formed in 2003 when the local library was closed, created a volunteer-run community information centre that has become a community hub. The centre includes computer terminals with internet access and hosts a number of different community groups.

SHEELAGH WHITE was recognised for her work with the Holidays at Home scheme in St Neots. She was nominated by Louise Mackenzie-Reid and Anne Harris, who said: "For 20 years, Sheelagh has been a mainstay in the community. Holidays at Home is an organisation that gives up to 300 youngsters aged eight-to-14 a two-week activity holiday during the summer.

"Parents feel confident their children are being well-looked after and are having a fun time."

JUNE GRIFFIN was nominated for starting a lunch club for the elderly in Little Paxton.

Her nominator Jan Kaneen said: "June started a lunch club for elderly residents so they could get together for elderly residents to get together once a month for company, chats and companionship."

Ms Griffin also set up a social car scheme for residents wishing to attend who had travel difficulties.

DR RAY MATTHEWS received a commendation for his work at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.

Nominator Jim Stevenson said: "Ray has been the man behind the reserve since even before its creation - writing the first management plan and implementing it with a group of volunteers.

"He worked closely with Huntingdonshire District Council to put rangers in place and created the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve to support them."

Fellow volunteer at Paxton Pits MATTHEW FOX was also recognised at the ceremony with sponsor Karen Staines praising his commitment and reliability.

For 40 years of service to Alconbury-cum-Weston Brownies and Guides, JEAN KING was handed a volunteering award. Mrs King holds a weekly whist drive to ensure the funds to run the groups are generated.