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Holbeton: Devon's Village of the Year
Picture postcard Holbeton
A village to be proud of: Holbeton
Holbeton in the South Hams is Devon's 2003 Village of the Year and will now represent the county in the regional final. BBC Devon Online's Laura Joint reports on a village that's friendly, caring and bursting with life.
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Village of the Year

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The Calor Gas Village of the Year competition is backed by the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

It's now in its 7th year.

The judges look for well balanced, pro-active caring communities.

There'a a total of £36,000 of prize money up for grabs, with the winners of the national final earning £6,000.

Each of the six regional winners gets £1,500.

Holbeton now goes through to the regional final, and the winner of that reaches the national final.

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When Holbeton was declared Devon's Village of the Year for 2003, the immediate thought which sprang to mind was: What makes this village better than all the others in the county?

The pretty South Hams village was deemed better than the other four finalists in the Devon final - Abbotskerswell, Christow (both Teignbridge), Musbury and Upottery (both East Devon).

And so Holbeton carries our hopes in the South West Regional Finals of the contest, being held in October.

Country lane in the village
Where can you park around here? Just ask!
I thought I'd be clever and catch them out. I arrived unannounced and uninvited on Sunday lunchtime.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I was sure people had better things to do than to talk to me.

The first thing I had to do was find somewhere to park.

I stopped to ask a young couple, and they were happy to inform me there was free parking at the village hall, and they told me how to get there:first test passed easily.

As luck would have it, just as I walked out of the car park, another couple emerged from their cottage.

Ann and Fred at the village allotment
Ann and Fred at the village's new allotment
Second test coming up: I asked them about the village's achievement and if they could tell me why Holbeton is a cut above the rest.

It turned out that I had bumped into Ann and Fred Rayner - chair of governors of the village primary school and chairman of Holbeton's twinning organisation respectively.

Not only did they have time to talk - they took me to the brand new village allotment and then onto a friend's house for a cup of tea in their garden!

Maggie, Fred, Ann, Pippa and Rod
Maggie, Fred, Ann, Pippa and Rod
These friends were Rod and Maggie Horne - Rod is also a school governor. Another villager was there too, Pippa Reece, who runs the ballet school in Holbeton.

Anyway, here's what they said of their village: "It's friendly, it's beautiful, it's close to the sea, it's picture-postcard, it's got a school, a post office and a pub - it's very much alive," said Ann. "The whole atmosphere is lively."

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Article first published: 14th September 2003

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