Peninsula community in running for national 'village of the year' prize
A go-getting parish council, three popular pubs and plenty of community spirit are some of the ingredients singled out for earning Shotley the chance of being named the country's 'village of the year'.
The picturesque peninsula, flanked on either side by the rivers Orwell and Stour, already holds the district and county ‘village of the year’ titles – but its 2,500 residents could soon be celebrating national bragging rights.
Shotley Parish Council heard news of the nomination at its April meeting – a “lovely surprise” for chairman Barrie Powell, who has called the village home for almost 40 years.
The village is also home to the HMS Ganges museum, war cemeteries at St Mary’s Church and the Shotley Royal Naval Cemetery, a busy local shop and a primary school rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.
It recently became the first location in Suffolk to be given ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status – part of a tourism-boosting national accreditation scheme launched in the West Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge in 2007.
Mr Powell said: “Being put forward for the national village of the year came as a surprise – but a lovely one.
“We’re very much a ‘go-ahead’ parish council at the moment, with among the largest number of individual groups as any council in Suffolk. Public support is strong, and we have a good cross-section of members.
“We have a very good open spaces group, subsidised by the parish council, and are home to the Rose Inn, Bristol Arms and The Shipwreck pubs.
“We like to be as welcoming as possible to visitors. Big maps are going up to show a ‘two rivers’ walk, a rambling walk and a walk that includes all three pubs.
“We have a very good primary school, surgery, and local shop due to double in size.”
Mr Powell arrived in the area to work almost 40 years ago. He was so charmed by Shotley that he bought a home when one came up for sale.
A 24-year stint running the local post office provided a discerning outlook on village life.
“When talking to new people, I could always tell if they would be living here for a couple of months, or if they emitted the village spirit to stay for good,” he said.
“Some people were born here, went to the school and have stayed for their entire lives.”