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National Award for Hethersett -  14th March 2013

Hethersett has become the first village or town in the United Kingdom to win a Prime Minister's Big Society award.

The award follows just three months after the village became Pride in Norfolk Community of the Year and is a testimony to the hard work put in by so many people in the fields of fitness, well being, health and creating a lasting Olympic legacy.

Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the efforts of local people:

“I’m delighted that the people of Hethersett were inspired by the Olympics to come together and promote sport and fitness for everyone in the village. 

"This Big Society award recognises Hethersett’s achievements and shows what people in communities across the country can achieve when they get behind something and volunteer to make a real difference in their local area."

A press release sent out from 10 Downing Street praises the village:

"The people of the village of Hethersett  have worked to improve the fitness and well being of residents and improve sports and leisure facilities in a dedicated effort to keep the Olympic legacy alive, making theirs the first village to receive a Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

"Inspired by the 2012 Olympic Games, village groups and organisations in Hethersett worked together to create activities and sports groups with the vision of encouraging local people to commit to fitness.

"From arranging Olympic themed weekends and winning Norfolk Village Games, to setting up new clubs and a sports association, Hethersett’s commitment to sport has gained them national recognition for providing more events per capita in support of the London 2012 Olympic games than any other village, town or city in the country," the Press Release states

The last few years have seen a fitness revolution in the village with the Hethersett Olympic Committee's Open Weekend, which includes the ever popular two mile funrun along with a sport in the park day, becoming a regular feature in the village calendar.

In addition Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association has worked with Active Norfolk and other organisations to launch award winning running groups and a table tennis club with plans already advanced for tennis clubs and a rounders club to be added.

The Press Release continues: "Health and nutrition related events also take place further promoting the fitness activities on offer in the village. A fittingly active Olympic Legacy committee was created to help ensure that the momentum and enthusiasm seen during the Olympics is not forgotten.

The Prime Minister has also praised other Olympic and village inspired events including the visit to the village of the 1948 London Olympic Torch, the off route visit of the London 2012 Olympic flame (the only place to have such a visit in the history of the modern Olympic games), the village pledge to fitness and newly funded play equipment, an Olympic themed movie night at Hethersett High School and environmental work including the setting up of a green spaces group.

Peter Steward, Chair of Hethersett and the Meltons Sports Association said: 

“We have increased people's awareness of what is on offer in the village by ensuring all our fitness groups are inclusive and open to everybody irrespective of age, sex, disability, colour or creed.  

"People coming to our village comment on our go-ahead and positive attitude, which comes through the number of people who give their time and energy voluntarily to enhance our environment and to work towards making us the ‘ultimate fitness and well-being village’. We are delighted to be recognised nationally for our efforts.

"We hope that other villages may be inspired by what we have achieved and realise that by working together anything can be achieved.

The Big Society awards were set up in November 2010 to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the idea of a Big Society in their work or activities and also to galvanise others to follow.

The awards focus upon three specific areas:

People, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves

Projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions

People, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community.

"There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals. 

“These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area,” David Cameron added. 

Nominations for the awards are made by the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to.  

A full list of winners is available on the Big Society Awards web site which can be visited by clicking here.