Villages’ double delight

THERE was a double celebration for Hunts villages in this year s Calor Village of the Year competition. Little Paxton and Abbotsley were both honoured at a special presentation evening at Burgess Hall, St Ives. Entrants were judged on various aspects of

THERE was a double celebration for Hunts villages in this year's Calor Village of the Year competition.

Little Paxton and Abbotsley were both honoured at a special presentation evening at Burgess Hall, St Ives.

Entrants were judged on various aspects of village life, from care for older residents to the way business is supported.

Eight villages were shortlisted in the contest run by Cambridgeshire ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) and sponsored by Calor, Defra and Archant Anglia, parent company of The Hunts Post.


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Orwell near Cambridge was overall winner for its work with older residents and will represent the county in the national contest.

First-time entrants Little Paxton received two awards. It won the environment category, impressing judges with its well-maintained playing field and the number of volunteer helpers at Little Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, which is due to triple in size over the next 10 years.

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The village was also runner-up in the building community life award for its victorious Save Our Surgery campaign.

After a year-long battle to stop Huntingdon Primary Care Trust closing the surgery, a new building and a new GP opened for business on Monday. It will be officially opened by Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly on Friday.

The village was also praised for improvements to a children's play area and the restoration of the church clock. Little Paxton Parish Council chairman Councillor Alan Denison said: "These awards help to show what a great community Little Paxton is to live in. We are very proud."

The parish council will split the £100 prize money between the Friends of Paxton Pits and the new children's play park.

Abbotsley won the ICT category for innovative ways of communicating with residents. There is a parish magazine called Roundabout, three village noticeboards, an events board and leaflets are regularly posted through residents' doors.

The village received a broadband internet service after local lobbying and then set up a website so residents can e-mail the parish council.

Modern technology has also helped local historian Nanda Wisson record the village's history on CDs to be displayed in the local museum. Abbotsley was praised for village festivals, including Feast Week, featuring the annual Scarecrow Festival.

Individuals praised in the Cambridgeshire Volunteer Awards, included:

* Robin Gumbrell, boat repairer, sailing instructor and committee member of Grafham Water Sailability;

* Tony Rogers, group Scout leader at Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots since the early 1980s;

* Rebecca Owen, 18, chairman of St Neots Youth Town Council for three years, won the inspiration award. She also leads a Brownie pack and is on the carnival committee and was dressed up as the town's mascot.

* Mary-Anne Burch, volunteer at HMP Littlehey visitor centre for more than five years, won the impact award. She persuaded the visitor centre association to become a registered charity and took on the role of chairman of trustees.

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