Pledges were made that the Dorset Best Village Awards which recognise rural pride will continue amid a shake-up of local government.

Dorset’s district councils are among the organisations which support the competition – but they are being abolished as a new Dorset Council takes over next April.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at Cerne Abbas Village Hall on Tuesday night, WDDC chairman and vice chairman of the shadow Dorset Council, Cllr Peter Shorland told guests: “This event sees people get together and believe in what they are doing and that mustn’t be lost when the district councils are abolished. I’m not going to let something like this be lost, or let (competition organisers) Dorset Community Action disappear.”

“The organisations that make this contest what it is, we’ll make sure they will still be here.”

Chairman of DCC and the shadow council Cllr Hilary Cox said afterwards: “On day one of the new Dorset Council no-one will notice anything different.

"The budget will be set in February by the shadow council and at the beginning of May there will be elections after which things can be taken forward.

"The new council will make its own decisions but I can’t believe that any council from Dorset would not continue to value and support its communities; that’s part of what we do.”

West Dorset communities and groups won a clutch of accolades at this year’s awards.

Winterbourne Steepleton won Best Hamlet, Langton Herring won Best First Time Entrant – one of seven villages competing for the first time – Allington Hillbillies won the Environmental Champions Award, and Duck’s Farm Shop at Portesham won Best Village Shop.

The shop, which includes a café, is owned by Joanna and Lee Worsley who also run the Kings Arms pub. They bought the derelict Olds Garage site and, with the help of the community, transformed it into the farm shop venture showcasing local produce.

Winner of Best Large Village was Okeford Fitzpaine while Briantspuddle scooped Best Small Village.

Sue Jones from Briantspuddle believes it was the ‘impeccably maintained’ bus stop, which includes a community noticeboard inside, which swung judges.

Judges travelled more than 900 miles across Dorset this summer as they inspected villages taking part.

While looking out for well-kept greens and finger posts, tidy churchyards and rubbish-free playgrounds, they also note the work going on in communities behind the scenes to look after their villages.

As well as the main awards for villages there are a number of different categories to recognise community projects.

The event is organised by Dorset Community Action with Magna Housing as the main sponsor. Support comes from a number of different organisations including the Dorset Echo.

Selina White, chief executive for Magna Housing, said: “Our purpose is to help people meet their housing needs, but having a place to call home is more than just the physical structure. It is also the community we live in which is hugely important to people. The Best Village Awards encourage people to strengthen their communities and that’s why supporting the event is so important to us.”

Organiser Rita Burden said: “There are so many lovely things happening in our villages which we may possibly not get to hear about without this competition.”


Large Village Award: Okeford Fitzpaine

Small Village Award: Briantspuddle

Hamlet: Winterbourne Steepleton

People’s Project Award: Yetminster

Environmental Champions: Allington Hillbillies

First Time Entrant: Langton Herring

Community Heritage Award: Stour Provost

Best Village Shop: Duck’s Farm Shop

West Dorset DC Special Award: Burton Bradstock

Purbeck DC Special Award: West Lulworth

North Dorset DC Special Award: Charlton Marshall

East Dorset DC Special Award: Sturminster Marshall

Previous Winners (Small Village): Loders

Previous Winners (Large Village): Martinstown