23/05/2011

NI's Top Village Sought

The search is on for Northern Ireland's leading small community with the launch of the Calor Village Of The Year competition.

A share in a £12,000 prize fund is on offer in the initiative, which is being run in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council, celebrates dynamic, enterprising and caring rural communities.

It is open to every village or rural community in Northern Ireland with a population of less than 4,500.

There are two awards up for grabs - one for communities with a population of up to 1,000; and one for those with a population over 1,000 and less than 4,500. Each winning village receives a coveted Calor Village of the Year title and £3,500.

Judges will also assess entrants on various aspects of rural life and make awards in five categories – building community life, business, young people, environment and older people. There is a £1,000 prize for each category, but to be eligible for consideration for the top prize, villages must enter at least three. The closing date for entries is 4pm on Friday 1st July 2011.

In addition to the main competition, there is also the opportunity for tech-savvy young people aged between eight and 18 to enter the Calor Youth Award by producing a short video showcase of what makes their village special.

The best video clip will feature on the competition's official website, www.calorvillageoftheyear.org, as well as Calor's corporate and facebook sites. A trophy and £500 is on offer for the winning entry. The runner-up will receive £250.

Launching the competition, Ian McCracken, Sales Director at Calor, said: "We are tremendously excited about this year's competition, which puts very small villages on the same footing as their larger neighbours with an equal title and cash prize.

"Also, we wanted to do something to celebrate the contribution young people make to their villages, so we are introducing the Calor Youth Award, which invites them to make a video of everything that makes their village special."

Ian pointed out that Calor Village of the Year does not concentrate on what village looks like. "So many of Northern Ireland's villages are breathtakingly beautiful places," he said, "but we want to celebrate the commitment of those organisations and individuals who contribute to their community.

"We want to hear collectively from business people, clergy, head teachers, shop owners, community leaders – anyone, in fact, who thinks they can do their village proud by winning the Calor Village of the Year title."

Martin McDonald, Chief Executive of the Rural Development Council, which acts as the judging panel for the competition, said the challenges posed by the current economic climate made this year's competition even more important.

"We work closely with rural groups and communities on a daily basis and know that, economically at least, life has been tough these last few years," he said.

"Against this, however, we are thrilled that rural communities are responding to those challenges with a steely determination and are delighted to be working with Calor in recognising the importance of rural communities in Northern Ireland.

"We hope that even more villages than before will get behind this year's competition to make it our best yet."

(GK/BMcC)

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