Norfolk market towns are winners

Towns around Norfolk have been recognised for their achievements in working to help create thriving communities.

In total four towns in the county have beaten off competition from across the East Midlands and East Anglia to win through the regional stage of this year's Action for Market Town awards.

Action for Market Towns founded its awards scheme in 2004 to recognise and showcase initiatives which are helping small market towns to adapt to change and flourish.

For the awards, the presence of a 'market' is not the determining feature – more important is the relationship between the town and the area surrounding it.

The winners include the Truly Local Shop in Stalham, which was the joint winner of the business and economy category alongside a project offering advice for potential market traders set up by Huntingdonshire District Council.

The Truly Local Shop project, led by the Stalham with Happing Partnership, only sells produce that is sourced within a 35-mile radius of the town.

The COAST 10 day arts festival held across Cromer and Sheringham, which was led by Cromer and Sheringham Arts and Literary Festival (CASALF), won the partnership and strategic working category, while the Wells Maltings Development, working to redevelop an existing community building, was highly commended.

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Also top of the judge's list was the Swaefas Swale Community Orchard initiative in Swaffham, set up by the Iceni Partnership to transform part of Swaffham's disused railway land into a community orchard, which won in the environment and culture category.

The winner of the social and community category was the Diss Corn Hall Refurbishment led by Diss Corn Hall Trust, with the aim of modernising the Diss Corn Hall and giving it new life as a centre for arts, culture and heritage.

An overall regional winner will be chosen at an event later in the summer and the winning projects also go forward to Action for Market Town's national award - the winner will be announced in October at a ceremony in Ludlow. They will also be automatically entered for this year's Regeneration and Renewal awards.

Chris Wade, the chief executive of AMT said: 'The quality and quantity of our entries shows that the big society is flourishing in many small towns across the East of England as communities show the spirit of self reliance.'