Villagers and councillors across the county gathered for a celebration of community as the winners of Dorset’s Best Village Competition were announced.

The Dorset Echo-backed competition has been running for the past 30 years, and after a long judging process culminated in an awards ceremony at Cerne Abbas village hall on Tuesday night.

Taking home the prize for Best Small Village 2017 was the west Dorset village Puncknowle, with the Best Large Village award going to Iwerne Minster in north Dorset.

Competition organiser Rita Burden said: “The main aim of this competition is to encourage villages to share with others their community spirit and receive awards for their sterling efforts.

“We want villagers to demonstrate that they work together, taking a pride in their local surroundings and amenities while promoting great community spirit.”

The annual contest is organised by Dorset Community Action and sponsored by Magna Housing alongside Dorset County Council, the four district councils, and a number of local businesses and food producers.

Cllr Geoffrey Fry, who collected Puncknowle’s award, said: “I am just so pleased for the village really.

“We are not a very big village but there is a lot of people who have put in a lot of effort this year to keep the village tidy.

“We have had the runner’s up award in the past, but have never won before.”

Besides from the Best Village award, other categories included the People’s Project, Environmental Champions and the Best Village Shop.

Rupert Hardy, chairman of the Dorset branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), presented the award for the best village shop to Cattistock Stores.

The Best Environment category was won by Frampton for its photo voltaic plates putting energy back into the national grid and Kimmeridge village hall won the People’s Project for working alongside The Etches Collection museum.

Collecting the Best Large Village award on behalf of Iwerne Minster Cllr Kerry O’Connor said: “I am overwhelmed.

“It is a real pleasure, Iwerne Minster has supported this event since it very first started, and, if I am correct, I think we won the best village award that year.

“We support the awards every year, to be honest, just to be involved and support everyone whether we come home with something or not.

“We love our sense of community, that is why we live there, and it is just nice to be recognised for that.”

The Dorset Echo awards for previous winners were won by Loders in the small village category and Portesham in the large village category.

This year saw the introduction of the new category the Young People’s Award which was claimed by Charlie Elford for his fundraising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Chief executive of Magna Housing Graham Colls said: “We support the communities we are based in and have been very proud to sponsor the Best Village Awards over a number of years now.

“It’s a great initiative that really encourages communities to come back together to look after the places they live.

“It is one of the best examples in Dorset of what some people call ‘civil society’, or in other words ordinary people working together for everyone’s benefit.”


Small Village Award: Puncknowle

Small Village runner up: Studland

Small Village third place: Shipton Gorge

Large Village award: Iwerne Minster

Large Village runner up: Pimperne

Large Village third place: West Parley

People’s Project award: Kimmeridge Village Hall

People’s Project runner up: West Parley Dudsbury Hill Fort project

Environment award: Frampton Vilalge Hall’s photo voltaic plates

Environment award runner up: Askerwell’s Washingpool Green

Best village shop award: Cattistock Stores

Best village shop runner up: Okeford Fitzpaine Village Stores

Young Person’s Award: Charlie Elford

Young Person’s runner up: Ross Crabbe and Ed de Boehmler

East Dorset District Council special award: Alderholt

West Dorset District Council special award: Thornford

North Dorset District Council special award: Winterborne Kingston

Purbeck District Council special award: Briantspuddle