Vil­lage ti­tle for small, strong com­mu­nity

Western Daily Press - - News - THOMAS COCK thomas.cock@reach­

TO­DAY we can re­veal the win­ner of Som­er­set Vil­lage of the Year 2020 –and it’s one of the small­est com­mu­ni­ties in the fi­nal of the con­test.

Af­ter a keenly fought pub­lic vote, the vil­lage of Od­combe, near Yeovil, has won the cov­eted ti­tle in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion – which we have run in part­ner­ship with Wes­sex Wa­ter.

The com­mu­nity has won £2,000 to spend on lo­cal causes and projects, to be de­cided by the parish coun­cil.

Parish coun­cil chair­man Deryl Ren­nie said: “I’m sur­prised and ab­so­lutely de­lighted. I can’t wait for ev­ery­one in the vil­lage who has worked so hard to de­serve this ac­co­lade to find out we have won. We are one of the small­est vil­lages in the fi­nal so it re­ally is a sur­prise we have done so well.”

Mrs Ren­nie said Od­combe’s strong com­mu­nity spirit and vi­brant vil­lage or­gan­i­sa­tions have been gal­vanised dur­ing the coron­avirus pan­demic and lock­down – with lo­cal groups and venues find­ing new ways for peo­ple to con­nect and sup­port each other.

“We’ve got a good com­mu­nity spirit here,” she said. “There’s an ex­cel­lent pub and gar­den cen­tre, both have re­ally risen up in the Covid cri­sis with veg boxes and take­away meals, and we have a very ac­tive vil­lage hall, which has a lot of users.

“Claire, who or­gan­ises the pop-up su­per­mar­ket, has set up mini pop­ups ev­ery Fri­day with a fish man, butcher, baker, green­gro­cer and flower busi­ness – a lot of peo­ple who use that and stall hold­ers will have sup­ported us.

“Within days of lock­down we had a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer group set up for shop­ping with a new web­site set up. It made a few more peo­ple join in. We had a food­bank in the church set up in days. We have also got an ex­cel­lent school. We find that when peo­ple move house, they gen­er­ally move within the vil­lage. They don’t want to leave.”

At the start of the year, we asked read­ers to nom­i­nate a vil­lage they loved and tell us why it’s a great place to live.

Af­ter whit­tling down dozens of entries, we asked peo­ple to vote for one of six fi­nal­ists dur­ing May and June. Af­ter all the votes from around the county were col­lected, Od­combe emerged as the clear win­ner.

Head of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment at Wes­sex Wa­ter, Kirsty Scar­lett, said: “Con­grat­u­la­tions to the res­i­dents of Od­combe and all the peo­ple who nom­i­nated and voted for this spe­cial vil­lage to win the com­pe­ti­tion.

“Od­combe is full of com­mu­nity spirit and it is clear how much the peo­ple who live there sup­port each other and their lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. From lit­ter pick­ing and path clear­ing ini­tia­tives to the award-win­ning pop-up eco su­per­mar­ket, many mem­bers of the com­mu­nity do their part and are pas­sion­ate about main­tain­ing and im­prov­ing where they live.

“As a lo­cal com­pany we are proud to serve our Som­er­set cus­tomers and help com­mu­ni­ties across the re­gion with fund­ing and vol­un­teer­ing, and it’s been a de­light to sup­port the Som­er­set Vil­lage of the Year com­pe­ti­tion.”

The other fi­nal­ists, in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der, were Dun­ster, Mil­ver­ton, Paulton, Wel­low and West Coker.

Act­ing se­nior edi­tor for Som­er­set Live, Thomas Cock, said: “Well done to Od­combe and thanks to ev­ery­one who took part. All of the fi­nal­ists should be proud to have reached the vot­ing stage. The com­pe­ti­tion has brought out the very best of vil­lage life in Som­er­set and we’re very grate­ful to Wes­sex Wa­ter for their part­ner­ship in this com­pe­ti­tion.”



Len Co­p­land

Denise Dun­ford, act­ing lead/trea­surer of Od­combe Vil­lage Hall; Claire Ash­ton, founder of The Pop-Up Eco Su­per­mar­ket; and Deryl Ren­nie, chair­man of Od­combe Parish Coun­cil

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