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Parham drinks to double success

PUBLISHED: 12:34 21 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

A FRIENDLY village that boasts only a few landmarks is celebrating after it scooped the Suffolk Village of the Year title for the second time in five years.

A FRIENDLY village that boasts only a few landmarks, is celebrating after it scooped the Suffolk Village of the Year title for the second time in five years.

Despite being cut in half by a busy road and with the parish lacking a shop, pub, post office and a school, Parham beat off competition from six other villages to scoop the prestigious title, which it had previously won in 1997.

The only notable landmarks in the village - situated on the B1116 midway between Framlingham and Wickham Market - are a church, a village hall, the memorial air museum and a noticeboard.

Having already won the Suffolk Coastal District Council section of the Village of the Year contest, Parham was chosen as the overall winner for the county after judges spent the past two days visiting the different parishes.

The result was announced on Thursday after the final votes had been counted with Holton St Mary, near Hadleigh, and Harleston, near Stowmarket, placed second and third respectively.

Villagers toasted their success in the contest and hoped they could repeat their triumph later in the year when judges will be touring the country to find a winner for the national competition.

Parham Parish Council clerk Annette Gray believed they had won the award due to the number of things happening in the community, including plans to create an IT centre at the village hall.

"We are ecstatic. We have put a lot into this village and it is nice to be rewarded for our hard work," she said.

"We have got a great community spirit and we all get on so well together because we have got so much going on in the village, there is always fundraising going on and that is good for interaction.

"We are really going to go for the national competition this year and having been there once before, we are no longer novices at it."

Her husband Michael, who is chairman of the parish council, added: "This is a great honour for the village. It is a very friendly place and everybody works together towards all sorts of projects. The atmosphere is great here and everyone is made welcome."

Peter Kindred, president of the 390th Bomb Group Memorial Air Museum, has lived in the village for 56 years and could remember when it boasted a school, a pub and a shop.

"It has totally changed as I've grown up and there is much more community spirit now as different groups of people have different interests and that holds the village together, whereas before everything revolved around the pub," he said.

"In a strange way, losing the pub probably helped build that community spirit."

Announcing the result, Mary Mitson-Woods, county secretary of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils, said: "The top three were literally within a whisker of each other, it was very close.

"But in the end Parham had just so many things right - brilliant conservation projects, planning for the future and lots of community stuff going on.

"When you drive through, you think it is a sleepy village on a busy road, but behind that there is so much going on. It is just a wonderful village."

Other finalists who just missed out on the honour, sponsored by Calor Gas, were: Euston, near Thetford; Great Ashfield, near Stowmarket; Tuddenham St Mary, near Bury St Edmunds; and Westhall, near Beccles.

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