Suffolk Village of Year 2007 named

A VILLAGE that hit national headlines for the wrong reasons last Christmas has rallied round to claim the crown of Suffolk Village of the Year 2007.The 212 residents of Levington have been rewarded for their amazing community spirit after they pulled together following the discovery of the bodies of two women - Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell - in their village in December last year.

A VILLAGE that hit national headlines for the wrong reasons last Christmas has rallied round to claim the crown of Suffolk Village of the Year 2007.

The 212 residents of Levington have been rewarded for their amazing community spirit after they pulled together following the discovery of the bodies of two women - Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell - in their village in December last year.

The two young women were among five prostitutes whose bodies were found in villages near Ipswich in an horrific 10-day spell in December.

Now, the village, on the south-eastern outskirts of Ipswich next to the River Orwell, has beaten competition from 26 other villages to win the award, which puts them through to the national final.

It took the crown from last year's winner, Stowupland, and won the title due to its community projects and forward planning.

Whepstead, near Bury St Edmunds, and Herringswell, near Newmarket, also made the top three, but it was Levington that triumphed in a grand final judged by BBC Radio Suffolk's Rachel Sloane. It was announced live on air as the winner of the Calor-sponsored contest.

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Mrs Sloane said: “I chose Levington because it had really interesting campaigns going on, such as saving a bus service, installing a person lay-by at a dangerous corner and creating a boardwalk down to the river.

“The final thing though was that in their written application it mentioned how they had to really rally round as a community and support themselves after police and national press took over their village.

“But what really impressed me was when I visited they could have milked that but they didn't even mention it - they just wanted to show how proud they were and how they are planning for the future.”

Mrs Sloane said she was particularly impressed with the £50,000 renovation of the village hall.

Pat Pryke, a parish councillor, said: “This is a great achievement for the people here who are so caring and supportive of each other.”

Mrs Pryke said the tragedy which hit their community in December had brought the community together, but she stressed they had “never wanted a sympathy vote”.

Levington will now go forward into the English Village of the Year competition.

What do you think of Levington's achievement? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk