Southwold beach hut neighbour award

As the Australian soap opera song goes Everybody needs good neighbours.

And one north Suffolk couple have been named as Britain's best – when it comes to beach huts.

Michael and Geraldine McElarney, from Reydon, near Southwold, won the title for their tireless work on Southwold promenade and for their efforts in making sure their neighbours' huts on East Cliff remain safe.

They were nominated by fellow beach hut owner Judith Chestnutt in a nationwide competition run by Coast magazine and sponsored by TL Risk solutions.

Mrs Chestnutt, an artist from Great Bealings, near Ipswich, said she wanted the McElarneys to be given some recognition for the help and kindness they showed her and other owners. She said: 'Not only do Mike and Geraldine keep a lookout on our nearby hut, doing any emergency repairs and phoning us if our hut is damaged by storms, but they have helped ensure that every visitor to Southwold enjoys their visit just that bit more.

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'They were part of a working party of 15 people who spent three days a week painting the railings all along the beach front and have done a fantastic job – the whole community is proud of them. They are the best beach hut neighbours anyone could hope to have.'

Mr McElarney, 70, a retired university lecturer, and his 66-year-old wife bought their beach hut six years ago. Their four granchildren enjoy playing there in the summer. Mr McElarney said he was 'chuffed' to win the award, for which they will be given a plaque to put on their hut.

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'I never thought we'd win. The only thing I've ever won was an egg and spoon race at primary school,' he said.

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