Cheshire Community Action Community Pride Awards 2013 winners

Best Kept Village CHAMPIONSHIP AWARD went to AUDLEM (L-R); Ian Cotton, Head of Community for spons

Best Kept Village CHAMPIONSHIP AWARD went to AUDLEM (L-R); Ian Cotton, Head of Community for sponsors, Essar Oil UK, with Phillip Johnson, Chair of Audlem Parish Council, Cheshire Life Artist, Gordon Wilkinson and his painting of the village and Richard Furber a mamber of Audlem Parish Council - Credit: Archant

The eventual winners of a prestigious community award almost didn’t enter the competition, writes Paul Mackenzie

Audlem has been among the most successful entrants in the history of the Community Pride Awards – winning the top prize five years in a row up to 2010 – so organisers of the annual contest were surprised to find no entry forms from the village this year.

In fact, they were so surprised they contacted Audlem Parish Council to make sure all was well. Their call prompted a flurry of activity in the village which resulted in the forms being sent off just in time.

And it was just as well they did get the forms in the post because at the awards ceremony held in Ellesmere Port Civic Hall, Audlem was named winner of the Championship Award.

The annual awards are co-ordinated by Cheshire Community Action whose judges made at least two secret visits during the year to each of the 48 villages that were entered, with further visits to the most promising places. The scores on the marking sheets – complex forms divided into several sections – are then totted up and winners chosen in a number of categories.

These awards are not simply concerned with floral displays, well-tended gardens or clean streets, although they will all help push the score up, but are designed to reward genuine heartfelt care for the community.

Chris Davenport, Cheshire Community Action’s finance and commercial manager, said: ‘We are not just looking for a pretty place, but for communities coming together and making improvements to their local area. Lots of places involve schools and other groups of all ages and that is the kind of thing we are looking for.

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‘Some villages might feel they can’t compete because they will be up against the likes of Audlem and Christleton who have both done very well over the years, but it’s not just about a village’s prettiness. We’re also interested in the steps places have taken to bring their community together.’

And although the Community Pride judges do look beyond a village’s beauty, there can be no denying that Audlem is a particularly pretty place.

It’s easy to see why the locals here are so proud of their village. From its picture postcard streets to its bustling village life, dawdling canal, glorious countryside and rich history there is plenty here to admire. And the judges obviously thought so too.

‘They commented particularly on the attractive floral displays, well-maintained shop fronts and immaculate cemetery and awarded Audlem top marks,’ Chris added.

Philip Johnson, who took over as chairman of Audlem Parish Council in March, once the village’s entry had been submitted, said: ‘This award is down to the hard work of some very dedicated people who like to see the village looking at its best.

‘Audlem is a lovely village and a thriving community and the people here care a great deal about it and have such pride in it. They are happy to put in the hours of work and it is wonderful to see their efforts rewarded.

‘They don’t do all the planting and tidying and pruning to win awards, they do it to improve the appearance of their village and it was a tremendous honour for me to collect the award on their behalf.’

And the winner is

Championship Award


Population 10,001-30,000

1 Sandbach

2 Congleton


1 Wistaston

2 Neston and Little Neston


1 Kelsall

2 Helsby


1 Audlem

2 Christleton


1 Comberbach

2 Great Warford


1 Crowton

2 Lower Withington

Under 400

1 Siddington

2 Hatton (Warrington)

Improvement award

Great Warford