Showcase for rural living - countryside projects win awards

Stephen Sleight with volunteers at Ridgmont Station, with their award.
Stephen Sleight with volunteers at Ridgmont Station, with their award.

Thatched cottages, a war memorial and community gardens are among projects winning awards given by rural campaigners.

The Bedfordshire branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has announced the winners of its Living Countryside Awards with the highest number of CPRE Marks given in one year.

Thatcher Chris Dodson working at Bromham.

Thatcher Chris Dodson working at Bromham.

The awards showcase the great contributions made by people and projects to enhance the county’s countryside and urban green spaces, revealing exciting initiatives across the region.

The awards were presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, at the distinctive venue of Moggerhanger Park – a previous CPRE awards winner - on Tuesday, October 7.

The three categories were: Building Design and Restoration, Biodiversity and Landscape Improvement and Sustainable Enterprise.

The awards include:

Carlton war memorial.

Carlton war memorial.

Sustainable Enterprise – CPRE Mark to Golden Gardens in Goldington - For the creation of two community gardens created from disused garages owned by BPHA, which have transformed a concrete wasteland into a valued asset for the community. Volunteers produce flowers and vegetables and includes a café that provides a lively social venue for volunteers and local residents.

Sustainable Enterprise – CPRE Mark to Chris Dodson, Master Thatcher for work on properties in north Bedfordshire, including one in Bromham where judges visited. This fourth generation thatcher impressed the judges by his dedication to his craft. With a commitment to a high quality thatching service, including the use of authentic and traditional methods of straw harvesting and roof installation. He also demonstrates the craft at agricultural shows and is training an apprentice.

Commended in this were

New Allotments in Haynes – for the dedication and success of members of this community in bringing allotments into this village

Cornfields Restaurant, Colmworth – for the impressive fresh food served in this traditional, hospitable country pub, using locally sourced ingredients where possible.

Biodiversity & Landscape Improvement – Silver Award went to: Millennium Country Park, Marston Mortaine – for the construction of a new permanent nesting site for sand martins, a declining bird species, constructed using sand-filled pipes set in a wall of concrete blocks on the edge of Pillinge Lake in the heart of the park.

Building Design and Restoration – CPRE Mark to Bassmead Manor Barns - for the renovation and construction of farm buildings into a stylish destination wedding venue, including the use of traditional building materials.

Building Design & Restoration – CPRE Mark to St Mary’s Church and Observation Tower, Clophill – for the work done to consolidate and open up the old church above the village to the community, including the installation of a new steel staircase and observation tower, allowing visitors 360 degree views of the landscape.

Building Design & Restoration – Silver Awards went to - Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre – for the full restoration of this previously derelict station house on the Bedford-Bletchley branch line, now incorporating a heritage centre, delightful tea rooms, office space and gift shop.

Building Design & Restoration – Silver Awards went to Linden Cottage, Harrold – for the authentic renovation of the thatched roof to the material and style authentic for this former labourer’s cottage, by fifth generation master thatcher Tina Nash.

Commended was the war memorial, Carlton – for the design and dedication of a new war memorial in a public space by the local community

The Old Barn, Stagsden – for the conversion of a former derelict roadside cart shed to a stylish, modern energy efficient home.

Top Farm House, Colmworth – for the renovation of a 1960’s bungalow into a distinctive family home.

CPRE Bedfordshire chairman, Gerry Sansom, said: “The entries into this year’s Living Countryside Awards demonstrate the number and diversity of projects underway that positively impact the evolving character of Bedfordshire’s countryside. This is why we take such pride in running the award scheme - to recognise and celebrate those who are making a difference today and for future generations.”

The full list of awards can be found at