Mendham, Shotley, Stradbroke and Kesgrave have scooped the honours in this year’s Suffolk’s Most Active Community Awards.

The awards, now in their fourth year, are organised by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Association of Local Councils. They were established to recognise and celebrate communities in Suffolk that are going the extra mile to encourage their residents to be active.

Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health, said “local communities are a vital provider of physical activity opportunities in the county yet they often don’t get the credit they deserve.

“It is important because an active community is a healthy community. Sport and physical activity is essential for good health and helps prevent or manage over 20 different conditions and diseases.

“More than that it brings people and communities together, creates and strengthens social networks, increases local pride and, importantly, reduces isolation. And let’s not forget, it’s also fun. It makes people happy”.

Mendham and Withersdale Street, which has a population of just 450 people, triumphed for the second year running in the small village category, for villages of less than 1,000 people. The judges were particularly impressed with the number and range of activities taking place including weekly judo and kettle bell sessions, a 14 strong boules team, tai chi and 3 sessions a week of line dancing.

In the large village category judges found it impossible to separate between Shotley and Stradbroke and so selected them as joint winners.

In Shotley’s case the village provides a huge selection of opportunities, but the judges were particularly impressed with it becoming the first place in Suffolk to become accredited as a Walkers are Welcome accredited destination which has, in turn, encouraged more people to walk the many designated trails and take part in a programme of recently introduced health and wellbeing walks.

Meanwhile, the number and extent of activities taking place in Stradbroke caught the judges attention. The village achieved the second highest participant rate nationally in Swimathon, the world’s biggest fundraising swim, hosts a triathlon aimed at beginners and an aquathon for children, hosted its first sports open day for local sports clubs and re-started its senior football team.

Kesgrave picked-up the Most Active Town award thanks in part to a hugely successful parkrun (averaging 265 runners per week), a junior parkrun (averaging 125 runners a week), a busy and vibrant sports centre catering for many indoor and outdoor sports, extensive cycle ways, an annual fun run and a new fitness circuit.

Lynsey Smith from Stradbroke Parish Council commented “Stradbroke strives to be an active village that continues to expand its sporting events and participation year on year. The whole village is proud to achieve the most active village award 2017 and hopefully we can use it to generate even more engagement from the village and continue to support the wider community.”

Shona Bendix, Chief Executive of Suffolk Association of Local Council’s added “I would like to congratulate all four winners. They’re doing a wonderful job in getting people active and richly deserve the awards they have received.”

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