Village of the Year Finalists
PUBLISHED: 17:05 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 20 February 2013
As the final preparations are made for the Village of the Year awards ceremony, Sussex Life can reveal the 12 finalists. Wish them luck..!
THESE are nervous times for the communities through to the final stage of this year's Village of the Year competition - for the winners glory and the chance to scoop the national prize and the losers nothing but the promise of next year.
Sussex Life is proud to support the competition run by Action in rural Sussex to find the most active communities across East and West Sussex.
The winners will be announced at an awards evening on September 14 at Ashington Village Hall in West Sussex. The competition, sponsored by Calor, aims to celebrate the villages which are best at working together to boost local quality of life. The overall winner receives £1,000, with £250 each for the runners up in each of three categories for both East and West Sussex.
Villages through to the final are:
East Sussex: Alfriston, Forest Row, Mayfield, Rotherfield, Wivelsfield Green
West Sussex: Fernhurst, Fishbourne, Plaistow and Ifold, Slinfold, Southwater, Storrington and Sullington,Tillington
The overall winner will bid for the title of Calor Village of the Year for England 2007/08 - an award which was won by Ashington in 2003.
Chair of the judging panel and AirS trustee Shirley James said: "People face many challenges in rural life today - the local shop or post office may be under threat, there's probably a lack of public transport, houses can be expensive and there's often not enough for people to do close to home, so they can feel isolated.
"However, as we've seen in this year's awards, there are communities out there determined to get on and tackle these challenges - and choosing the winners will be very tough indeed."
The final 12 - What makes them special
ALFRISTON, EAST SUSSEX, population 776
This unspoilt and picturesque village, in the heart of the Cuckmere Valley in the South Downs, has been a busy community since at least Saxon times - it's a popular spot for tourists, drawn by a wealth of historic houses, and villagers work hard to make sure visitors feel welcome. There's an all-year calendar of activities and events, particularly the week-long Alfriston Festival in August and Dickensian Evening in December
What sets the community apart in 2007 is a successful campaign by Alfriston HeartStart, which raised £10,000 in a year to buy five defribrillators and train nine people to give emergency first aid.
FERNHURST, WEST SUSSEX, population 2,765
Pretty Fernhurst, between Midhurst and Haslemere, prides itself as a community that can look after itself, with lots of volunteer groups and dozens of clubs and societies, both formal and more informal - there's toddlers' football in the village hall, the Rev Tony Roake of St Margaret's Church runs debating sessions 'Pints of View' in the Red Lion while on Mondays you can find the Housework Avoidance Group (HAGS) having coffee in the Fernhurst Centre. This community centre and internet café was set up by villagers in a former delicatessen, offering a range of services, courses and a meeting place for all ages.
FISHBOURNE, population 1953
Fishbourne, two miles west of Chichester, and bordering Chichester Harbour, is known worldwide as home of the Roman Palace - and it is very much a thriving village community today, with two pubs and a sports and social club. Every house in the community is kept up to date with copies of the Village Voice newsletter. And there are plans to develop a community hall. The village is particularly proud of The Fishbourne Book. Produced by a group of volunteers, it forms a patchwork of village life over the last century, with interviews and contributions from people who have a real affection for the village.
FOREST ROW, population 5,500
Forest Row, on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, is a village leading the way on the environment front - it has elected the first Green Party councillors to Wealden District Council, is a recognised centre for organic produce, has a comprehensive recycling centre and earlier this year was awarded Fairtrade village status. Forest Row shops are also a plastic bag free zone. The village, a runner-up in 2006, continues to build on its facilities and activities for all ages: a thriving youth club, the Jubilee Garden, community café and the Foresters' Link, a path and wildlife area created by the parish council from a previously unusable patch of land.
MAYFIELD, population 3,651
Mayfield is nine miles south of Tunbridge Wells and is one of two villages that make up the civil parish of Mayfield and Five Ashes. It has a good range of shops, a thriving post office, pub and restaurants. A partnership between the council and youngsters, aged from11 to 19, has created a successful youth park, with a youth club, sports courts and skateboard park, funded by a number of grants. A highlight of the year is the Music in the Meadow Concert, raising funds for children's hospice care and the village has a thriving Bonfire Society.
PLAISTOW AND IFOLD, population 1,856
Plaistow is a quintessentially English village, with a green, pond - complete with dipping platform - pub and a church all in the centre and more than 30 listed homes and buildings. The busy village shop also runs a post office and estate agency and sells fresh local produce.
The parish has two village halls, a youth club and a play area, with Ifold and Plaistow sharing events and clubs between them. A key focus for the community is a £32,000 fundraising appeal towards a new eco-friendly log cabin pavilion for Plaistow and Kirdford Primary School, due to open this month. It will also be used for afternoon and sports clubs.
ROTHERFIELD, population 3,164
Rotherfield is largest parish in East Sussex and also one of the oldest settlements in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, dating back to Saxon times. Perhaps that's why many so many visitors come to trace their family history. They find a warm welcome when they arrive - the village publishes a comprehensive guide to local attractions and walks. Successful village fundraising has enabled Rotherfield to redevelop the village hall and buy 13 acres of meadow and woodland to create the Millennium Green, a wildlife habitat at the heart of the village.
SLINFOLD, population 1,647
The pretty village near Horsham is so tucked away within a triangle of main roads that few drivers will even know it is there. Yet hidden among the picturesque houses is an active and caring community. For example, Slinfold was among the first in the country to set a village help scheme - a network of 50 volunteer drivers and six telephone