Stisted, near Braintree, beat off strong competition notably from Thaxted and Gosfield, placed second and third respectively, to clinch the prestigious Essex Village of the Year award for 2011. The three villages receive prizes of £500, £150 and £100. A fourth finalist, Great Totham, received a Highly Commended certificate.

Stisted impressed the judges with its very strong community spirit and obvious drive to improve the quality of life for local residents. It runs its own community-run shop and post office set up after the original post office closed and similarly provides a bus two days a week to cover for the loss of its conventional bus service. The village hall has been extensively refurbished and now boasts a computer training suite. The hall trustees are also responsible for managing the adjoining allotments which have recently been expanded and now include a community orchard.

The competition, organised annually by Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) also includes the popular Best Kept Village in Essex awards. This year’s 5 individual class winners, who each receive £150, were Great Dunmow, Kelvedon, Great Bentley, Rivenhall and Belchamp St. Paul.

RCCE Director, Nick Shuttleworth, paid tribute to Stisted, which with a population of just 500 inhabitants is one of the smallest ever villages to win the Village of the Year title:

“Our competition is all about rewarding vibrant, enterprising and caring villages, a description that sums up Stisted perfectly. There was a real buzz to the place when our judges visited, with people of all ages getting actively involved in village life.”

He went on: “Thaxted and Gosfield also deserve great credit. Thaxted has an excellent community information centre and is taking a real lead on issues such as affordable housing and fuel poverty. Volunteers also play a crucial role in looking after its wonderful heritage. At Gosfield, the parish council manages its own nature reserve and the ‘Future of Gosfield Group’ is bringing forward new ideas to improve sustainability.”

Nick Shuttleworth paid tribute to all this year’s winning villages:

“This competition showcases so much that is good about rural life in Essex today. Our judges were enormously impressed by the enterprise, commitment and sheer hard work of the dedicated volunteers who do so much for our rural communities.”

Sarah Bowerman, Corporate Responsibility Advisor for Essex & Suffolk Water, sponsors of the competition said: “We are passionate about supporting the local community, so it is a privilege to sponsor these awards to recognise the fantastic achievement of the residents of the winning villages.”

Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) is a registered charity that works to sustain rural communities throughout Essex, helping them take action on issues such as access to services, affordable housing and the provision of village halls. It also acts as a voice for rural people on key issues.

For the full result please download the following document

Vof Y Results 2011.pdf