VILLAGES throughout Cheshire are being sought to show pride in their community and help scoop a Shell UK (Stanlow) Community Pride Award.
The accolades, formerly known as the Best Kept Village Awards, have been launched for 2008.
They raise community morale, attract new businesses and home buyers, catch the eye of tourists and create a benchmark of quality that villagers can continue to aspire to.
The village awards are judged in population categories ranging from under 400 up to 30,000.
The awards, which have been running for 52 years, are organised by Cheshire Community Council and sponsored by UK (Stanlow).
Co-ordinator Sylvia Batty, who has judged many of the awards, says the taking part makes all the difference.
She said: “The judges are all voluntary and they come from all over the county. They get travel expenses but it is a labour of love.
“Judging takes place between April and August. By June they will have arranged a shortlist of each category and judges will return to the shortlisted villages before they select their winners.”
All of the winners of each category are then judged a final time for an overall champion to be selected.
Sylvia added: “It used to be called The Best Kept Village competition but new categories we’re introduced within the infrastructure and it changed to Community Pride.
“It’s not necessarily how pretty a village is. It is how it is cared for. Judges look for continuous care.”
Great Barrow has enjoyed further success since it won the Community Spirit award, when it beat 24 other villages across the county.
Regional judges will inspect the village on April 21 as Barrow represents Cheshire in regional finals. If they win, they will be shortlisted for the national finals.
Barrow volunteers have set up a youth club, saved their own post office from closure and maintained their grocery store.
Barrow resident Jayne Hastings, who co-ordinates community pride awards, explained that the village was alive with activity.
She said: “A driver passing through might mistake Barrow for a quiet sleepy Cheshire village but there is a lot going on under the surface.”
She explained that villagers were busy preparing for the judges in April.
She said: “You’ve got to impress upon the judges that people are working together to address issues.”
“I’m so thrilled we will represent Cheshire in the regional finals.”
Categories in the 2008 Community Pride/Best Kept Village are:
Community Based Project,
Community Safety Award,
Community Spirit Award,