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Grandma Joy Reeves thrilled as her Felixstowe chalet wins Beach Hut of the Year national title

PUBLISHED: 15:15 24 August 2017

Joy Reeve and TV presenter Phil Spencer toasting the success of Grandma's Little House after the hut won the Beach Hut of the Year award.  Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Joy Reeve and TV presenter Phil Spencer toasting the success of Grandma's Little House after the hut won the Beach Hut of the Year award. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Archant

A grandmother who uses her Felixstowe seaside chalet for family gatherings and to raise cash for charity has scooped a national title.

Phil Spencer and Felixstowe town mayor Nick Barber awarding Joy Reeve with the Beach Hut of the Year plaque.  Picture: JAMES FLETCHER Phil Spencer and Felixstowe town mayor Nick Barber awarding Joy Reeve with the Beach Hut of the Year plaque. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Joy Reeve’s pride and joy, known to all as Grandma’s Little House, has been named as Towergate Beach Hut of the Year after winning the public’s votes and the judges’ praise.

Yesterday Phil Spencer – presenter of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location show, and a the Beach Hut of the Year judge – visited Joy’s hut to present her with a £1,000 prize and a plaque.

The hut, named by her grandson Oscar, carries on a tradition that has spanned generations of her family – and historian Kathryn Ferry, also a judge for the competition, described it as a great example of how the humble beach hut has united young and old to enjoy simple seaside pleasures since the 1890s.

Joy, who lives in Felixstowe, said: “I am so delighted to win this, it’s wonderful to think that the hut my father bought and where all my extended family has had so much fun has been voted the best in the UK.

Grandma's Little House.  Picture: JAMES FLETCHER Grandma's Little House. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

“All my six grandchildren love it so much, and the rest of my family and friends all share it and love it. We’ve had lots of birthday and anniversary celebrations here too.

“Everything changes so fast these days and moves so quickly, but at Grandma’s Little House all of us slow down, relax and enjoy the simple things. There’s nothing better than a swim followed by a cup of tea in the hut.”

Joy and her friend Karen Kenny open the hut during the winter offering hot drinks and homemade cakes to dog walkers and their pets, people swimming in the sea and out for a stroll. So far donations for the resfreshments have raised nearly £5,500 for charity.

This community use of the hut is one of the things that stood out for the competition judges, who chose Grandma’s Little House as the winner because it is so homely, comfortable, welcoming and well-loved.

Joy Reeve.  Picture: JAMES FLETCHER Joy Reeve. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Phil Spencer said: “It really is a place that is made the most of all year round rather than just on a few warm days in the summer, not just by Joy and her family and friends but also for the benefit of lots of others. It’s very clear that the hut is enjoyed by lots of people and this fact really shone out for the judges”.

Joy also received a year’s free insurance for her hut.

Seaside historian Kathryn Ferry said beach huts had now reclaimed their status as family favourites after falling out of favour for a period in the 1980s when the British seaside became unfashionable.

She said: “Then they were seen as the preserve of old folks sitting out their retirement years.

Joy Reeve receiving her award from Phil Spencer.  Picture: JAMES FLETCHER Joy Reeve receiving her award from Phil Spencer. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

“That has all now changed – they have reclaimed their role as an intergenerational hub.

“These colourful little structures are the vibrant backdrop to extended family get-togethers with older owners like Joy just as likely to be swimming in the sea as their grandchildren.

“The Victorians used their huts for brewing up a pot of tea by the beach, and that is something that has never changed.”

Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association will also receive £500 from the competition, launched by Towergate to celebrate the quirkiness of British “non-standard” properties.

The celebration cake for Beach Hut of the Year. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER The celebration cake for Beach Hut of the Year. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

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