Stewkley has won the 2017 DeFraine Cup for Best Kept Village, following on from its very impressive 2016 success in winning the 2016 Tindall Cup, as well as the Community Trophy!
The Tindall Cup was for winners from the previous year, which in 2015 included, Stoke Goldington, Cuddington, Marlow and Haddenham. Stewkley had previously won Best Kept Village on four occasions and each time the following year had entered the Tindall Cup competition but never managed to win it. Winning was a great collective community achievement.
Once again in 2017, John Flewin and his working party of village volunteers, including Gill Morgan and Brian Bottomley from the Parish Council, set about making targeted improvements around the village. John has now garnered a lot of knowledge and experience of what the judges need to find when they come to visit and score the village. He manages to galvanise the collective effort in these areas.
It is this enormous amount of community collaboration that continues to strengthen our chances of winning the Best Kept Village trophies. The increased communal efforts to improve all these areas of relative weaknesses is really paying scorecard dividends.
Thanks go to all those groups, societies and individuals who have striven to make beneficial changes to our village environment.
Of course, the competition is just one element in motivating the community into addressing some areas of improvement, but the real win for us all must surely be the continuing sense of ownership and spirit of keeping the village looking its best all the time.
The judging for 2017 took place in June and judges again commented favourably on the war memorial, graveyard and cemetery, the playing fields and children’s play area, the wildflower meadow and surrounding conservation area, the village hall and Methodist hall. The flowers at the village pump and bus shelters together with the new painting of the bus shelters and notice boards and the well maintained grass verges were also noted along with the general tidiness of the village.
In September there was a lovely celebration for the community as the judging panel visited the village to present the trophy to Deputy Chair Keith Higgins who was standing in for Jenny Wodey. The presentation took place at the War Memorial and the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire made a glowing speech in which he praised all members of our community for their hard work and effort.
The meeting then re-convened at the Village Hall where a sumptuous buffet was served to invited guests and a celebratory drink, courtesy of the village shop, Stewkley Food and Wine, was provided. Thanks go to all those of the Parish Council, village organisations and the Scouts for organising, running and clearing up this very successful event.
We can now look forward to 2018 with a sense of optimism and purpose.