Norfolk villages battle it out for county glory

Competitors from all over Norfolk compete in various activities at the Sportspark for the 2016 Villa

Competitors from all over Norfolk compete in various activities at the Sportspark for the 2016 Village Games title.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Hundreds took part in the last village games competition in a bid to be named Norfolk's sportiest community.

Now in its sixth year, the competition sees villages from across Norfolk go head to head in 10 different sporting events.

And yesterday more than 350 people, from 10 village teams, battled it out to be crowned as the county's best at the UEA's Sportspark.

Winning the event was made all the more significant after organisers Active Norfolk announced it would not be continuing with the competition.

Ellen Vanlint, development officer, has been helping to put together the event since it was first started.

She said: 'It is the sixth year we have done the games and as with anything, it is time to change things and do it all a bit differently.

'The fantastic thing about it is that so many clubs have been set up on the back of this and it makes such a difference.

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'That is what we wanted to happen and that will be the ongoing legacy of it all.'

Over the weekend, around 16 villages were represented – with some of them joining together to form one team.

They competed in everything from archery and darts to badminton and gymnastics.

Trophies were awarded to winning teams in two categories based on the village's size: small/medium and medium/large.

Hainford and Stratton Strawless won the small/medium category, while Hethersett and Meltons came out on top in the medium/large group.

Carolyn Atherton, organiser of the Hainford and Stratton Strawless team, said 50 villagers were taking part, aged between nine and 75.

'The community spirit is the thing that is really strong for us, and I love the idea that teams are all made up of volunteers,' she said.

'The spin-off for us is that we have been able to set up three or four sports clubs in the village on the back of the games.'

The competition was started in 2010 following a three-year grant from Sports England.

Since then, Active Norfolk has secured funding from various local organisations to keep the event running.

It has engaged with more than 150 villages and has reached thousands of people from across Norfolk.

Frances Rayner, village games co-ordinator for Downham Market, has entered a team since the competition was founded.

She said: 'We were here for the very first one and we are here for the very last.

'We have seen our children going being the little ones on the pitches to now playing with the adults.

'We are very sad it has come to an end and we will miss it.'

Other village teams that took part included Old Buckenham, Briston and Melton Constable, and Fakenham.

Miss Vanlint said villages will still be able to access a range of different games and events throughout the year.

Are you launching a new community sports event? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684 or email