A BRAINTREE district village has been crowned the best village in the county.

Great Maplestead, near Halstead, has won the Essex Village of the Year award, after being recognised for it’s its strong community spirit and social achievements.

The awards, run by the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE), took place last week at RCCE’S Annual General Meeting.

The RCCE’s assessment noted how Great Maplestead’s key organisations work together to ensure residents are able to enjoy living in a cared-for and thriving social environment.

The village was also praised for its interesting and varied activities on offer throughout the year, which are centred around the village hall and see residents enthusiastically participate in celebrations of local and national events.

Other unique village features such as the plant exchange and the church warm room were also commended.

Proud - The Parish Council Chairman Steve Harris and Clerk Ann Crisp Proud - Parish Council chairman Steve Harris and clerk Ann Crisp (Image: Submitted)

In particular, the village’s achievement in refurbishing the children’s play area and installing a new fully accessible pathway on its playing field was commended – with the village raising more than £100,000 from local donations as well as a National Lottery Grant.

RCCE said the two schemes were both evidence of the village’s successful cross-community collaboration.

The organisation was also impressed by the way the village has embraced social media, creating support and chat groups that enable residents to easily connect with one another.

Great Maplestead Parish Council chairman Steve Harris and clerk Ann Crisp were presented with a commemorative shield and an award certificate by the RCCE’s Patron, Mrs. Jennifer Tolhurst, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex.

Mr Harris said: “I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the village.

“It is recognition for all the efforts of village volunteers, organisations, clubs and social groups to ensure that, despite a lack of key facilities, our village continues to thrive.”

With a population of around 300, Great Maplestead was one of the smallest villages entered in this year’s competition.

Nearby village Castle Hedingham also received a ‘Highly Commended’ award.