Measures taken to publicise participation in BKV included sending a flyer to every household, articles in the parish news and the parish website, the publication of a BKV calendar sponsored by local businesses and liaison with the school. There were a number of good, bespoke BKV banners and a specific notice board for BKV news. There were BKV posters on all notice boards, in the bus shelters, at village entrances and in some shop windows.
There were two excellent displays of children's posters, one at the bottom of the High Street (with well over 100 posters) and the other near the Gnosall Heath shops (over 70). They were well designed and clearly linked to the ethos of became very. Another excellent effort.
All the notice boards were in good condition, notices were displayed neatly and surrounds clean and tidy.
There was a very good spread of local information, including county, district and parish council business, local organisations and groups, local events and activities, contact names and numbers for a variety of matters, dog fouling and recycling awareness, bulky refuse collection, etc. A very comprehensive coverage. “There was lots of information on community initiatives and things going on in Gnosall. There is a very community focused feel to the village” (June judges).
The surrounds to St. Lawrence’s churchyard were well maintained; grass was well mown, paths and edges were tidy and grave areas neatly kept, but no planters or flowers anywhere. The new burial ground looked very good too. The grass was very well mown throughout the judging period, paths were clean, and the graves were very tidy. There were some good benches, some of which were suffering from “bird attack” under the trees! The surrounds and car park of the Methodist Church were very clean and tidy and weed free.
The car park and surrounds of the Memorial Hall were free from litter and weeds. The car park at the Grovesnor Centre, parish office, youth club and library were very tidy and litter free. There were some very attractive and obviously very well-maintained planted areas which provided colour and interest and the whole area looked very well cared for throughout the judging period. The grass areas of the scout and guide centre were well mown and there were some interesting and well cared for features on the edges of the area - kayak planter, bug hotel, insect and bird boxes etc. A great initiative and an indication of how Gnosall brings younger People into its BKV effort. The car park, paving and planted areas of the Health Centre were, once again, Immaculate.
The Horns appeared to be closed in May and June, but July judges said that the car parking outside drinking areas were very tidy and the frontage was enhanced by some attractive hanging baskets. The newly painted George and Dragon frontage was very clean with some nice plants. The Royal Oak looked splendid, with excellent outdoor drinking space, a lovely play area, well mown grass, some lovely planting, very tidy recycling area and an attractive frontage. The Navigation’s grass areas and outside eating/drinking areas and car park were very tidy. The Boat car park, outside beer garden and eating areas were very tidy and the planters and hanging baskets on the frontage “were just outstanding” (July judges) (no wonder it takes 3 days to plant them up!)
The former telephone box now houses an excellent, well stocked book exchange/library. It was very clean inside and the surrounds were enhanced by some attractive planting. This was a very impressive facility which appeared to be well used and very well looked after.
All four bus shelters were in very good condition and their surrounds were tidy and free from weeds and significant litter. They were very clean inside and had been well used to display local information, BKV and children's posters and dog fouling notices.
The many seats and benches were in good condition, some had clearly been repainted/re varnished recently, but a few had suffered from “bird strikes” at times! (Judges appreciated how difficult it is to keep on top of the bird problem and were aware that efforts had been made in Gnosall to deal with it!)
Gnosall has a variety of village features ranging from the attractive village entrance sign on Stafford road to the lockup and the Rainbows gnomes’ planter. There were also a number of well-constructed sleeper planters around the village, with colourful, well maintained planters and the new “help yourself” herb planter on the canal towpath. The village footpath map and village maps also caught the judges’ eyes. The milestone was also noted as a village feature; and judges could understand why the new wildflower meadow (near the health centre) might also be seen as such - it is developing very well and look very attractive in July.
The Acres and Boardwalk looked very good throughout the judging period. These areas have been very well thought out and well managed to provide useful spaces and attractive summer meadow areas (with mown grass paths). There was no litter of any consequences and only one dog mess on the Boardwalk (in May).
The small open spaces at the rear of the Grovesnor Centre and at Manor road and Sellman Street were well mown and litter free. The village green is developing well (occupied by a fair in July!) and the wildflower area looked very good. All other verges were well mown and litter free.
Almost without exception private gardens were maintained to a very good standard throughout the village. Judges praised the frontages of cottages in the central part of the village which had attractive hanging basket displays “a real community effort to keep gardens looking so good” (July judges).
Equipment and safety surfaces in the small children’s play area were good, but there were signs that further work will soon be needed to deal with ‘lifting’ of parts of the safety surface (e.g. beneath the swings) The Chippy Jumps play area was very good all round; equipment was in a good condition, safety surfaces were sound , the grass surrounds well mown and there was no litter. The MUGA and new tennis court areas were clean and litter free at all times.
The maps were very good, with clear bases and good use of colour and symbols to locate BKV features to be judged, which were clearly identified with BKV ‘codes’. Judges spotted one or two small errors in the BKV codes and also felt that the key should refer more specifically to BKV features, rather than the more general grouping which are shown at present. (These are very minor criticisms and easily resolved).
There was virtually no litter seen throughout the village during the judging period. The two minute litter pick and cigarette end posters must have had some effort, but the regular litter pick volunteers probably had a great deal to do with the issue! One dog mess was seen in May, near the boardwalk. There was very clear evidence of significant community awareness of and involvement in BKV again this year. Judges met a number of residents and BKV volunteers during their visits to Gnosall and were told that they were very pleased with the effort which goes into BKV every year and the results which it produces. Gnosall has a well-formed plan for BKV and the volunteers put in a great deal of time and effort to implement that plan. The bunting in the High Street, the BKV calendar, the new herb gardens, the villages response to last year's judges’ comments all illustrated the increasing degree of community efforts seen every year in Gnosall.
“Gnosall is a very well looked after village and a good community spirit shows through” (July judges); “it was a pleasure to judge Gnosall” (May judges); “massive community effort is evident throughout the village” (June judges). These comments show how the judges felt about the village and probably show why Gnosall looked so well cared for throughout the whole BKV judging period. The standards which have been achieved in recent years were certainly matched in 2019. Gnosall thoroughly deserved the Best Large Village award in the Stafford area this year; and also, that for the Best Large Village in the whole of Staffordshire. Congratulations on this year's successes and good look in 2020!
Gnosall was announced Best Kept Large village in the Stafford area at this year’s awards ceremony held on 6th August. Well done to all members of the BKV team, your efforts are very much appreciated. Forty villages entered the competition this year. In the first round, judges looked at all villages twice, once in May and once in June. Up to three villages from each of the categories (large and small villages) with the highest percentage marks in each of the four areas went through to the area final round and from that a winner was chosen and this year, for the third year running Gnosall scooped first place with Penkhull coming in second.
BKV truly is a village-wide community action group, under the dedicated and inspirational leadership of Dave Clarke The group of dedicated volunteers is small for the size of the parish, but manages to achieve amazing results. It is entirely volunteer-led and right at the front is Dave (usually on his bike) looking to see that all is well, things are tidy, plans are progressing and so on.
The BKV group is partly funded through the Parish Council but also raises a lot of money for BKV from local individuals and businesses. They produce superb calendars (displaying scenes of our lovely village) which are the end-product of a photographic competition. Over 500 are sold annually. Local businesses support the group by means of donations, sponsoring specific projects and sponsoring hanging baskets around the village. BKV also produce helpful Walking Booklets for local enthusiasts and these are very popular, providing yet another funding stream.
The group tries to be original and to produce something new each year. Last year saw the unveiling of our beautiful Village Sign, which was built by local craftsmen with sponsorship. This year saw the creation of a Wildflower Meadow on the village green and a book swap shop on Audmore Road. The more they do, the more there is to maintain in subsequent years but it doesn't deter them. The group engenders a tremendous community spirit, with something for all ages.
The Children's Poster competition attracts over 200 entries, with almost every child in the village taking part. Litter pickers are out on patrol 365 days of the year, not just during the judging period. The Sewing Group makes and displays the colourful bunting around the village. Flower beds are created and maintained all around.
BKV certainly brings our village together and makes it a much better place to live. In Gnosall, BKV is not just about the way the village looks; it's about the way the village community feels about itself and the first place prize is very much deserved.