St Nicholas Church, Laindon was announced as the clear winner and particularly impressed the judges with the creation of peaceful, contemplative areas for visitors and for encouraging and interpreting wildlife in the churchyard.  Managed mainly by volunteers using a Management Plan, the large churchyard commands a wonderful view across south Essex.  The wildflower meadows and planted areas were very attractive to bees, insects and butterflies and provide safe havens for small invertebrates and wildlife to move across the area in search of food.

In close second place, St Stephens at Cold Norton is again carefully managed by a dedicated group of volunteers.  The Management Plan explained clearly when activities in the churchyard, such as grass cutting and hedge trimming, should occur and offered plenty of seating for visitors and water for planting tributes. 

Joint third place winners, St Nicholas, Kelvedon Hatch and previous winners St Mary & St Christopher, Panfield were also strong contenders. 

Highly Commended awards were presented to St Mary's, Rivenhall and St Ethelberts and All Saints, Belchamp Otten.

The RCCE Best Kept Churchyard competition looks to recognise and reward churchyards across Essex which are well manged and provide a peaceful haven for both humans and animals.

The competition is kindly sponsored by Lodge & Sons Builders Ltd (Stebbing) and for the first time this year, by the Essex Biodiversity Project, Essex Wildlife Trust.

All six finalist churchyards sent representatives to the AGM to hear the results announced.

RCCE would like to thank all churchyard management groups and volunteers for entering the competition.