Volunteers in Hilperton are celebrating after winning Wiltshire’s Best Kept Village Competition for the first time.

Judges from the Campaign to Protect Rural England praised the church’s well-maintained borders and churchyard; families picnicking at the playing field and the best allotment site they said they had ever seen.

They thought Hilperton
CofE Primary school was neat and tidy, footpaths well maintained, and public open spaces and residential gardens very well kept.

Parish council chairman Ernie Clark said: “I’m very proud. It’s down to a mixture of things. Obviously Wiltshire Council legally looks after the churchyard but Ken Hall does an awful lot of work up there and it always gets praised in these competitions.”

Mr Hall, 84, a lifelong Hilperton resident, started looking after the St Michael and All Angel’s churchyard around four years ago.

He said: “There was a tree overhanging what used to be the schoolhouse and they asked if I would cut it back. I thought I’d clear the ground underneath and then it escalated. I just keep it tidy, at the moment I’m clearing the footpaths.

“I always go up on a Monday morning and a Friday morning. With 24 relatives in the churchyard I go up most days and if anything wants doing I do it, I don’t work any fixed hours.

“I’m proud of the award, I just wish there was more interest from youngsters in gardening.”

Cllr Clark added: “Ken does all the stuff that makes it looks nice, and keeps it trim. Really if he didn’t make his contribution it would be adequate rather than great.

“The plants by the war memorial are looked after by Lesley House, that’s funded by the parish council but she puts a lot of time into it without remuneration.”

A shield will be unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire at a celebration in the village hall next Sunday.

Box was in second place with Bowerhill and Burbage   joint third.

Box Parish Council clerk Margaret Carey said: “We are really thrilled as it is very difficult for us in a competition like this, in comparison to quieter villages, as we have the A4 coming through Box.

“The competition focuses on the village as a whole and how the facilities are maintained and ensuring their isn’t any litter on the streets. This really is something for everyone to celebrate and be proud of.”

Mike Mills, chairman of Bowerhill Residents’ Action Group and Melksham Without Parish Council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. There’s a lot of work being done by a lot of people and we organise regular litter picks. It’s good community work and it’s nice to see it recognised.”