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Good For You!

Good for all of us -WE WON! Sheepwash is the BEST KEPT VILLAGE IN DEVON FOR 2014 (in the small village category). Sometime soon we will be having a celebration, a presentation, and will receive a prize of £100 worth of vouchers.

You might think the competition was nowt to do with you. You may have thought you were too busy to be bothered with it. You weren’t going to mess about making the road tidy outside your house or kicking dog poo off the paths by the river. You were wrong!

If you look at the judges criteria for marking their clip boards during the four months in the summer, and adding up all the points they use in their deliberations, you will notice that all sorts of aspects of village life contribute to our scores. At first thought, I don’t care whether Sheepwash scores points in the competition - how trivial is it that we gain a point or two by mowing grass or planting an extra lobelia here and there.

However, more and more, as years go by in the competition, the judges are looking at the health and happiness of the villages - the care for each other, the consideration of the environment around the village, green issues addressed by the community, whether we are together as a social group, if our websites are attractive, if we attract visitors and make them feel welcome, if the village is a safe and happy place, if there is a wide variety of activity and entertainment taking place. This is what we have been judged on.

I spoke recently to one of my neighbours who, though he was glad we won our section of the competition and he even congratulated me for that, admitted from under his headphones and over his lawnmower, that he and his family had done nothing towards our success. He was wrong too! The fact that he feels that he can let his children skip along to our village shop in safety without worrying about them, says something to everyone else about the qualities of Sheepwash. The entertainments, the fete and barbeque in the park, though not aimed at the BKV, also say something good about the social inclusion for everyone in the village. The list of events and activities which take place is large and not many of them are aimed directly for those BKV judgements, but they are part of Sheepwash, they encourage and motivate more goings-on, more notices on the bus shelter, greater involvement, more villagers helping each other plant tubs, erect marquees, organise village lunches, paint the Village Hall, run quizzes to raise funds, offer help to one another and feel proud of the entire community. I heard that the judges had quite an earful about good things going on when they called into the village shop!

That’s why my neighbour was wrong to congratulate me for the BKV award - it belongs to all of us. It has little to do with the Parish Council (though they and the Bridgeland Trust kindly support our entry with funds for weedkiller, preservative, plants, compost, a few building materials and some equipment). It is congratulations to us all. Well done US!

We are going to spend much of the winnings on a party for everyone in Sheepwash, probably a tea party in the Village Hall, in the near future. However, the sponsors, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) and Mole Valley Farmers, will probably want to have a representative to be there to give us our plaque and our vouchers, so we are waiting to confirm a date. We will publicise the date as soon as we can. You are invited!

Mike Ritson Tel: 01409 231680 Email: 7

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