EXCITEMENT is building as communities gear up for a big awards night to celebrate Dorset’s outstanding villages.

The winners of the 2014 Dorset Best Village Competition will be revealed at a presentation evening on Thursday, September 18.

Now in its 28th year of celebrating teamwork and community pride, the presentation for the Dorset Echo-backed awards will be held at Morden village hall, near Wareham.

Last year Child Okeford won best large village and Tincleton was the winner in the small village category.

The competition and awards evening has been organised by Dorset Community Action since 1987. Five years ago Magna, Dorset’s largest housing association, became the major sponsor for the competition and has renewed its support for 2014.

Pavements were brushed, flowers arranged and bus stops and churchyards tidied as judging took place throughout the summer.

Competition organiser Rita Burden said: “Once again it has been a privilege to visit these villages using judging criteria which positively encourages the protection of our precious environment.

“Village litter picks, pollution free streams and ponds, protecting wild life habitat and the planting of trees and wild flower areas – these initiatives gain the highest marks from judges.”

In addition to usual Best Village categories, there will be further special awards on the night including The People’s Project – the village judged to have entered the best project involving local active people and Best Environment – the village judged to be doing the ‘greenest’ project.

This year, for the first time, there will be a prize for the Best Village Shop. This category has been sponsored by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Group chief executive Graham Colls said: “Magna is once again pleased to support this event which does so much in Dorset to encourage people to be proud of their villages and to build community spirit.”

Additional sponsorship comes from Dorset County Council, the four district councils, the Dorset Echo, Dorset Magazine, Blackmore Vale Magazine, along with local food producers and traders Clipper Tea, Thomas Fudge’s Remarkable Biscuits, Honeybuns, Craig’s Dairies and Helen Furness Catering.