It is time to enter Lancashire's Best Kept Village contest

Secretary Ann Alty and chairman John Isherwood from the Lancashire Best Kept Village competition
Secretary Ann Alty and chairman John Isherwood from the Lancashire Best Kept Village competition

What could increase the value of a property, brings visitors to boost business and makes local residents happy?

The answer - The Lancashire Best Kept Village Competition.

The Chairman of Elswick Parish Council Paul Hayhurst and Martine Hayhurst celebrate Elswick being named the county's Best Kept Village of the  Year 2018

The Chairman of Elswick Parish Council Paul Hayhurst and Martine Hayhurst celebrate Elswick being named the county's Best Kept Village of the Year 2018

It is now the time of year when the county’s numerous villages large and small will be considering whether to enter the 61 year old contest.

There is of course much prestige in winning and pats on the back for all concerned.

But, according to the organisers of the contest, the major boost is to community spirit as residents come on board to ensure their village is a fine place to live.

The potential increase in value of properties in desirable locations is an added bonus too.

Eccleston won the first Best Kept Village title in 1958

Eccleston won the first Best Kept Village title in 1958

Competition Secretary Ann Alty and Chairman John Isherwood are keen to stress this is not a beauty contest with only the prettiest villages winning.

About 70 villages regularly take part in the competition but John believes there are probably at least another 100- 120 which could take part.

Ann said: “I’ve contacted 96 in the last few weeks to try and encourage them to join in.”

John said: “The aim right at the start is to get the community working together. A best keptvillage can only be best kept if it’s got the whole community behind it.”

The rewards are, he says, “a better quality of life” for county residents, adding: “We need to get back to that spirit.”

This is not Britain in Bloom....although Ann and John acknowledge floral displays are very nice too and show pride in a place.

Instead the key qualities are “a high standard of care and maintenance in Lancashire villages and hamlets.”

Ann said: “We’re looking for the tidiest and the best kept not the most floral and the prettiest.”

The very first winner was Eccleston in 1958. In 1917 Blacko was named the champion village and that honour was taken by Elswick last year.

Last year the competition celebrated its diamond jubilee and produced a souvenir booklet noting how the Community Council of Lancashire launched the contest. Until 1974 its reach included the County Palatine and that included Cumbria, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

John said: “We are about to make some fairly major changes this year - we’re going to update it.”

Ann added: “Our main aim is to get some new villages on board and to get some new judges on board. To do that we are slimming down the documentation and trying to modernise it.”

For more information contact Ann at annalty@gmail.com or on 01772 612445 or John at isherjm@talktalk.net or see www.lancashirebestkeptvillage.org.uk

Winners come from all over the county

* Awards are distributed in five categories and Outstanding Feature awards are made in 15 categories ranging from places of worship and their grounds to schools, pubs, public gardens, play areas, war memorials and public monuments and village halls.

* In 2018 the winners were Elswick - Champion Village; Large Village winner - Preesall and Knott End; Medium Village winner - Wrea Green; Small Village winner - West Bradford; Hamlet winner - Roughlee.

* New recruits are welcome to join the judging team.