A LOCAL village is celebrating after being officially crowned the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Village of the Year.

Bishop’s Sutton, near Alresford, came out victorious in one of the closest competitions for years, wrestling the title from a strong group of contenders, including last year’s winners North Waltham.

All four finalists won one of the four categories the award was decided on, but Bishop’s Sutton secured the grand prize after the judges ruled the village’s community links across business, clubs, communication and the environment were outstanding.

Coordinator of Bishop Sutton’s bid for success, Gail Cook said, “The whole experience has been great for involving new people in activities rather than just the usual suspects. This means so much to us all.”

The competition also recognised the contribution of Bishop’s Sutton resident Peter Mills, who allows his pond and meadow to be used for village leisure and recreation, creating ‘the glue’ for the pub, church and village hall as village assets.

Cllr Harry Verney, who represents the village on the city council, said: “This is wonderful news. Bishop’s Sutton is a tranquil place. The houses look dreadfully nice and are well kept and nicely spread out and the community pull together tremendously.

“This is a fully deserved award.”

Aileen Miller, who chairs Bishop’s Sutton Parish Council, praised the work of Gail Cook for leading their bid.

“I just think it’s wonderful for the village and it recognises the fact that the community has pulled out all the stops. The effort that has been made is excellent.”

Steven Lugg, one of the organisers of the competition, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure being involved in the judging this year. The quality of finalists made it very difficult; certainly for residents all the finalists are winners.”

Awards will be presented by competition sponsors Fuller’s Brewery at a prize-giving evening in North Waltham in October.