By way of a thank you to all our dedicated volunteer competition judges, RCCE organised an afternoon at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, near Maldon in Essex on Monday 1st Oct 2018.

The afternoon began with afternoon tea in the mess hall, consisting of freshly prepared sandwiches and home-made scones and cakes, together with tea and coffee. The aerodrome is becoming increasing well known for its excellent food and hospitality and so seemed an ideal place to hold this informal event. It was also a chance for judges to catch up with each other over refreshments, chat to RCCE staff and learn more about this amazing museum.

Tea was followed by RCCE’s Executive Director Nick Shuttleworth, judges on a look back at both the Essex Village of the Year and Best Kept Churchyard 2018 competition finalists.

Then judges had the opportunity to look forward to next year; with a first look at the schedule for the 2019 competitions. This was a chance for Judges to give feedback on that as well as the 2018’s judging process. Following previous feedback RCCE will be significantly extending the judging period and window for villages and churchyards to enter the competitions in 2019. All the judges were pleased with the extended timeframes and RCCE hope this helps both judges and villages.

Everyone very much enjoyed Ian Flint, Chief Executive Officer, Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome Trust, fascinating talk and tour. Ian brought to life how it must have been for all those based at Stow Maries during WW1 and judges also had the opportunity to see the newest exhibition (third permanent exhibition) ‘Rule Britannia’ – Women in the Great War.

RCCE thanked volunteers and competition sponsors; Essex & Suffolk Water and Inkpen Downie for Essex Village of the Year and Lodges of Stebbing and Essex Wildlife Trust for Best Kept Churchyard.  RCCE greatly appreciates the support given by sponsors and volunteers, without whom we could not run the competitions.

RCCE will shortly be sending out competition guidance and pre-entry promotional material.

We are also looking to recruit more new volunteer judges for both Best Kept Churchyard and Essex Village of the Year Competitions. Many of our current Judges choose the area where they want to visit and make a day of it! You can judge as few as you want and support is provided throughout the process. Our judges frequently tell us that one of the nicest elements is finding more out about rural Essex.

If you would like to learn more about what is involved, or are interested in becoming a volunteer judge in either competition, please contact Sara Ward:  in the first instance.