Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

Calor Village of the Year Competition – 2009

This is the document which was given to the judges at the end of their visit on July 15th.

Introduction

These notes, which are designed to summarise the information provided during your visit, follow the four main themes used during the assessment:

But we have added a fifth topic which we regard as critical in making Denton such a successful village:

Finally, a check-list from the Village Tour is included at the end.

COMMUNITY

Denton is an active, all-embracing community where all residents (and often friends and family living nearby) are encouraged to participate in any of the many communal activities. It is very much a single-tier society with people of all ages and all backgrounds coming together. The very high participation rate contributes to the excellent community spirit.

The Village Hall

Following the closure of the King's Head pub and village shop, the Church, Chapel and the Village Hall are the only communal facilities that remain in the village. The Hall is used by a wide range of village groups and is also available for private hire. It has been extended and modernised in recent years; the latest development being the addition of the Games Room primarily aimed at younger people. A further extension to provide back-of-stage facilities and another meeting room is planned.

The Hall is the main focus for community activity in the village. Whether it is a birthday party, wedding reception or funeral wake, or the village fete, it all takes place at the Village Hall. It is owned by a trust and administered by a management committee made up of representatives of the main users and the parish council.

Hall Users and Activities

The following groups are the most frequent users of the Hall; details of their activities appear below.

The Social Club

The licensed bar in the Hall opens every Friday (with a rota of some 40 voluntary bar staff) and provides an important informal meeting place for residents. The proceeds contribute to Hall funds.

On the last Friday of every month different teams of volunteers provide a meal for any villagers who attend for £2.50. This is widely supported by approximately 60 - 70 people. On bar nights during the summer a barbecue is lit outside on the patio for people to bring their own food to cook and eat at the Hall.

Occasional Classes - Yoga, keep-fit and art classes have been held in the Hall at different times; currently regular EXTEND sessions are provided.

Individual Hire - The Hall is available for private hire by individual parishioners. The management committee's policy is that hire charges are set at affordable levels so that the facilities are as available as far as possible to all members of the community. The Hall also owns three marquees that are used for events at the Hall and are available for private hire. There is a large team of volunteers who erect and take down the marquees for events.

Committee Events - During the year the Hall Management Committee organises a wide range of social and fund raising events. These include: Beetle Drives, Whist Drives, Bingo Sessions, Quiz Nights, Theme Dinners, an Annual Summer Ball and a Village Supper in the autumn. They are all very well attended.

Clubs and Societies

The Black Hand Cyder Society

The Society was founded in 2002 and now has a membership of more that 50 local people. During the year activities include: collecting in several tons of apples which are then pressed, fermenting the resulting juice to create cyder, racking and bottling. A number of social events, normally a Wassailing event in January plus Boule evenings and a Cyder Fest in the summer, are held at which suitable quantities of cyder are consumed.

Denton Gardening Club

Now in its eleventh year of operation the Club has more than 50 members. It holds monthly meetings throughout the year. Between October and April meetings with guest speakers are held in the village hall while in the summer, evening outings, some locally in members´┐Ż gardens and some further afield, are organised. A Summer Show is held annually as well as occasional Garden Open Days for charity.

Denton Variety Club and the Rising Stars

The tradition of stage performances of various kinds in the village hall goes back many years but the DVC took its current form more than twenty-five years ago. The normal pattern is to put on a show for adult performers (though younger members normally join in as well) which spans three nights in mid-February. This is normally a pantomime but reviews have also been staged. In addition, in the autumn a show for younger people, the 'Rising Stars', is produced. All the material used for both productions is 'home-grown'.

Denton Women's Institute

The Denton branch of the Women's Institute meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the Village Hall. The programme provides a variety of meetings with speakers and interesting outings. The branch has around 35 members.

Monday Friendly Club

Aimed primarily at the over 50s the Monday Friendly Club is a social club for anyone in Denton who enjoys meeting up for activities, refreshments and a chat with friends. Meetings are held in the Village Hall with a range of activities from carpet bowls to keep-fit and outings are organised to the coast or other places of interest.

Other Community Activities

Post Office

Denton's village Post Office is open every Thursday morning in the Vestry of the Chapel at Chapel Corner. A wide range of PO services are provided. Tea and coffee with cake and biscuits are served so visiting the post office can also be a social occasion.

Heating Oil Syndicate

A syndicate (DABBOS - The Denton & Alburgh Bulk Buying Oil Syndicate) has been set up to take advantage of bulk buying arrangements for domestic heating oil.

Approximately every two months members of the syndicate can request a visit from the tanker that tours the two villages topping up the tanks of those that need oil.

Significantly lower prices are available because of the scale of the order and the resulting time and travelling savings for the supplier.

Car Scheme

A volunteer car scheme operates in the village to take patients to emergency appointments with their doctor or dentist in Bungay or Harleston or to collect prescriptions.

Self Help Schemes

There is a long-standing tradition in the village of groups of residents coming together on an informal basis to achieve some communal objective.

Good examples of villagers working together include:

Education

Denton's own village school closed many years ago when the site of the school in neighbouring Alburgh made it a better choice for a shared primary school.

Toddler Group: There is a successful mother and toddler group based in Alburgh which caters for both villages.

Alburgh with Denton Pre-School Nursery: This operates on the same site as the primary school but has its own building. It covers the age range 2-5 years.

Alburgh with Denton CofE VC Primary School: Most children from Denton attend this school, based in Alburgh, which has recently been extended and modernised. The chairman of governors and three other governors are Denton residents. The school and community work closely together; thus when the Millennium Wood was planted in Denton, all the children at the school had a special planting day to plant a large grove of oak trees.

The Church in Denton

Twenty-five years ago it was decided to merge the Anglican and United Reformed denominations into one ecumenical church – one of the first in Britain. It is the Joint Church Council's aim that the Church in Denton reflects the friendly and sociable character of the village. Shared services are held in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin and in the Chapel. Everybody, of whatever religious persuasion, is most welcome.

Both Parish Church and Chapel provide venues for other activities such as concerts and exhibitions and the vestry of the Chapel becomes a Post Office every Thursday morning. A church based Holiday Club is organised for local children in July.

The Parish Council

Denton has an active Parish Council of seven members. Meetings are held monthly and the council takes its responsibilities very seriously. Good examples are its long-running campaign (which is now bearing fruit) to see new affordable housing provided in the village and the current playground improvement scheme. Residents are welcome to attend and contribute to its meetings and the annual Parish Meeting is used to involve all the organizations in the village. Close liaison is maintained with the village's representatives on the District and County Councils.

SUSTAINABILITY

The Challenge for Denton

RECYCLING

In the 1980's Denton had its own paper recycling scheme. Weekly kerbside collections were organised and the paper stored in the playing-field shed. Once a quarter this was collected by a wastepaper merchant and the funds raised used to support village projects.

When the district council placed a mini recycling centre in the village, volunteers continued the weekly collections of recyclable materials from households. This reduced unnecessary journeys to the site and helped those unable to go themselves. This has now been replaced by the council's own green bin system and the recycling centre is limited to glass and clothing. The bottle bank is managed by South Norfolk Council but the parish council has organised a textile bin through the charity SCOPE. Money raised continues to be used for other projects in the village.

A few years ago a group of Denton residents, curious to know how recycled materials are managed by the district council, organised a 'trip to the tip' to see for themselves the problems encountered and what happens next.

COMMUNITY COMPOSTING

This scheme was introduced 5 years ago with the intention to -

It involves 30 volunteers who -

This scheme, initiated by the parish council, was the first of its type in South Norfolk. Two Open Days have been held and two further schemes have been established using Denton as a guide, i.e. Geldeston in South Norfolk and Trunch in North Norfolk. The scheme has also been able to provide information and statistics based on our own experience to help advisors at County Hall who are working to encourage community composting in other communities in the county.

Benefits of composting for the community -

Footpaths, Bridleways and Set-Aside

In Denton there is an abundance of footpaths, bridleways, set-aside and field headlands to enjoy either on foot or on horseback. Local landowners welcome riders and walkers alike and Norfolk County Council maintains a specified number of Community Paths throughout the parish. It is possible to walk for up to four hours or more within the parish and cross only two roads. A Charity Walk was held earlier this year with up to 70 people following a variety of routes of differing length within the parish.

Flora and Fauna

Denton has an abundance of wild flowers. Snowdrops in late winter, primroses and violets in spring are followed by a profusion of cowslips throughout the parish. Wild orchids are not uncommon. These include the purple, spotted, pyramid and bee varieties.

The large proportion of land in Denton has been in set-aside for the past twenty years and this has encouraged barn owls, skylarks and green woodpeckers. Over the past few years cattle have been turned out during the summer months on set-aside near the castle and this return to traditional husbandry methods has given an extra dimension to our rural landscape. There are a growing number of deer roaming at will in the parish including muntjac, roe and a group of red deer including a full grown stag.

Pond Meadow

The Parish Council has recently sought the advice of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust with a view to managing this small piece of land to -

The Millennium Wood

As part of the millennium celebrations in the village it was decided to create a new wood in Denton. This was part of the 'Woods on your Doorstep' scheme supported by the Millennium Commission and organised by the Woodland Trust.

The total cost of the scheme was almost £35,000 and though generous grants were available, the village itself had to find £7,000. A local appeal was well supported and a series of fund-raising events made up the balance. A four acre site, located in the centre of the village beside the playing field, was acquired. The land was formerly owned by the Rogerson Trust and local people chose to retain this name for the new wood.

In February 2000 residents were joined by children from the local primary school to plant the wood, using a mixture of indigenous trees. A time-capsule containing, amongst many other things, a copy of the village's Millennium Book was buried at its centre. The only departure from the use of native species was the planting of some American red oaks to mark the link with Denton, Texas, USA. The wood is now maturing very well and makes a significant contribution in terms of carbon capture.

Social Sustainability

Maintaining the social balance of the local community is very important. For some time the shortage of affordable housing in the village, whether to rent or buy, has caused great concern in Denton. Many people, particularly younger members of local families, cannot afford to live here. Hence the Parish Council's long-running campaign to promote new affordable housing in the village. A scheme to build 6 new properties in Norwich Road is now nearing the construction stage.

Green Energy

The Parish Council have organised meetings for residents to encourage the use of solar and wind energy in the village. They plan to pursue the possibility of community energy schemes as proposed in the latest announcements from the government.

Autogas is provided by the local garage service in Denton. A convenient local supply of a cleaner fuel has encouraged a number of residents to move away from the more polluting petrol or diesel. An increasing number of vehicles are using this service.

Denton and Alburgh Bulk Buying Oil Syndicate - DABBOS

The high cost of central heating oil prompted the start of DABBOS in the autumn of 2008. Since the scheme was set up, oil delivered has exceeded 100,000 litres.

Apart from the economic benefits this scheme reduces the impact on the environment by

Public Transport

The village has a very limited scheduled bus service with two buses a day in each direction linking Denton with Diss, Harleston, Bungay and Beccles. However a community bus, the Borderhoppa dial-a-ride service, also covers the village.

BUSINESS

Originally a mainly farming community, Denton has changed radically over the years and now possesses a very diverse economy.

There are more than 40 businesses in the village (all small or very small). As a result Denton is not just a dormitory village for Norwich, but a thriving community throughout the day. Approximately seventy people are employed by these businesses, the great majority village residents. The proprietors of these businesses help the community both in person and with their expertise and resources.

The businesses can be classified as follows:

The Parish Council has a policy of supporting local enterprise and takes a positive attitude to all planning applications that bring local employment.

Community Businesses Etc.

As well as strictly commercial businesses a number of not-for-profit schemes operate in Denton.

Public House Replacement

The last pub in the village, the King's Head, closed in 1984. Following its closure a club licence was obtained, a bar was established and a new extension to the Village Hall built. This opens every Friday evening and for many of the events which take place in the Hall.

The bar is operated by members of the community on a voluntary basis. Meals are provided on the last Friday in each month. The proceeds are ploughed back into Hall extensions and improvements.

Post Office

The Post Office and Shop, located at Chapel Corner, closed in 1995. Since then a Community Post Office has operated in the nearby Chapel Vestry on Thursday mornings throughout the year. There is an official Postmistress (always from the community) and a full range of sub-post office services is provided.

Tea and coffee is provided for customers, made by volunteers from the community. The money raised from the refreshments goes to charity and other uses.

Composting

Denton Community Composting of garden waste (see Sustainability Section) started in 2004 using Volunteers from the Community. Since its formation this has raised more than £4000 for the community and in 2008 it raised over £1000 in the season. This money is passed to the Parish Council to be spent on community projects like the planned Play Area Improvement Scheme.

COMMUNICATION

The Challenge

Parish Notice-board

The original method but still important. Sited opposite the village hall, it is in two sections, a secure locked area for official notices etc and an open area for public use. When required urgent information is circulated by distributing printed flyers with the morning papers.

Parish News Magazine

Widely distributed on a monthly basis to over 90% of the houses in the village.

The Directory

Circulated free to all households, every two years, and to new arrivals.

The Internet

The installation of a local wireless broadband system, promoted ten years ago by the RDA and district council, gave village residents good early access to the internet. This has now been superseded by broadband availability via the BT line network though line speeds can be variable.

Village Website

http://www.denton-norfolk.co.uk

For residents and the wider world:

Dentontalk

The way forward – instant communication with everyone with internet access. It provides:

But the needs of those without access to the internet must be recognised. We are now considering setting up a system that ensures that any really critical information, from the Homewatch system for example, is relayed to those who are not on the net by telephone.

Welcoming Newcomers

As soon as a new resident arrives they are sent, by the Parish Council, a letter of welcome from the Chairman of the Council, a copy of the Village Directory (this has now replaced the former 'Welcome' leaflet) and a copy of the current edition of the Parish News. Informally, neighbours will usually make contact and invite the new people to forthcoming events and meetings.

Involving Residents

A slot is allocated in the agenda of every Parish Council meeting to allow residents to raise issues of concern. If a controversial or major issue emerges the Council will organise special open meetings. Where appropriate, surveys are organised to establish people's views. Thus a survey was sent to every household seeking views on the playground refurbishment project.

Once a year, the Council holds a Parish Meeting where all the local organisations are invited to make a presentation reporting on their activities.

ADAPTING TO CHANGE

Responding to the Changing World

One of the key factors that make Denton such a successful community is its ability to respond to changes of all kinds. This is reflected in the various themes used in the Calor Competition.

Community

As in all communities, the residents of Denton are constantly changing. Newcomers are welcomed, with a Welcome Pack from the parish council, and are encouraged to join in any activities that interest them. The response is usually very positive and the community benefits from the influx of new ideas and new talents.

The village is no longer allowed to have its own primary school but is very much involved in supporting its replacement which is shared with Alburgh. The school is very successful and has an excellent reputation for community involvement.

When the post office in the village shop closed down eighteen years ago it was realised that this would make life difficult for many elderly residents. The response was to set up a one-morning-a week service in the Chapel vestry with refreshments provided. It has been a great success.

Historically there used to be a division in the village between the members of the Church and the Chapel. This all disappeared when the two groups came together to form one of the first ever ecumenical church groups; reflecting the all-embracing community spirit in the village.

The closure of the last pub in the village presented a major challenge to local residents but the response was typical of how Denton handles change. The bar facilities in the Village Hall have been much enhanced over the years - a reflection of the value of the facility to the community.

Sustainability

Denton takes environmental issues very seriously and tries to respond appropriately. Perhaps the best example in this regard is the very successful Community Composting Scheme which is widely recognised as a leading-edge project.

Looking to the longer term, there was great enthusiasm in the village when the Millennium Wood project was launched. A significant sum of money was required but this was quickly raised and it seemed as if the whole village turned out to do the planting.

Communications

In a scattered rural community like Denton modern technology provides a better way of keeping residents fully informed and involved. The parish magazine is still important but the village website is more comprehensive and up to date.

With more and more residents connected to the internet a new channel of communication is available. Dentontalk now provides an easy to access venue for discussing any local issue. At the moment the future funding of the parish magazine is under debate.

Business

The local economy has changed dramatically over the years with agriculture, although still important, employing fewer and fewer people. A number of residents commute to Norwich and other towns but there has been a significant increase in local employment in other fields.

Modern technology has encouraged more people to work from home but the biggest change is the increase in the number of people providing local services for local people.

Village Tour

The following is a check list of points drawn to the attention of the judges by the tour guides Liz Cargill and Peter Hill. Points shown in bold represent stopping points

Parish Boundary with Alburgh

Parish Boundary with Denton

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