Village title for small, strong community
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.”
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