Win £1,000 for your Village Hall

Show notes (summary)

How would you like to win up to £1,000 for your village hall and £500 for yourself? Listen in to this special podcast episode for details of our 2021 Wonderful Villages Photo Competition. Our guest is Gavin Mitchell, Managing Director of competition sponsors Allied Westminster, who helps to explain the kind of photos we’re looking for and some of the rules around the competition, as well as how to enter. So tune in, get snapping and win some vital funds for your local community, and for you too! #wonderfulvillages2021

Transcript: Season 1 / Episode 9

Johnny Thomson 00:00
Hello and welcome to The Village Halls Podcast sponsored by Allied Westminster, the UK’s largest specialist provider of village hall insurance, and the home of VillageGuard. Now, how would you like to win £1,000 for your village hall and £500 for yourself? I’m sure you would. I know I would! Today, for this special episode, we’re launching an exciting new competition with lots of cash prizes thanks to our podcast sponsors Allied Westminster and I’m delighted to be joined on the phone by their Managing Director, Gavin Mitchell, who is going to help me explain exactly what’s on offer here and what this competition is all about. Hi, Gavin, thank you so much for joining me today.

Gavin Mitchell 00:42
Hello, Johnny. Good to speak to you again. Hope you’re well?

Johnny Thomson 00:45
Yeah, good thanks, you?

Gavin Mitchell 00:46
Yeah, fine thanks. It’s been a strange year, hasn’t it?

Johnny Thomson 00:49
It has. Now, I’m sure many of you will have come across Allied Westminster’s Wonderful Villages Photo Competition before. This year, I’m delighted to say that The Village Halls Podcast and Allied Westminster are teaming up to bring that to you once again. So Gavin, explain the part you’re playing, which is primarily about putting up a whole host of fabulous prizes, isn’t it?

Gavin Mitchell 01:14
Yes, indeed. I mean, as you know we insure thousands of village halls across the country. And leaving aside the boring side of insurance, one of the things that we did some years ago was to set up a photo competition, which went down extremely well. We’ve done that a few times now and we thought, let’s do it this year again. It was very warmly received and, you know, it’s a great way to celebrate village life. It’s not just about village halls, but just village and rural community life. So yeah, we’ve yet again, we have a range of prizes, five prizes in all, for photographers and their nominated village halls. So you know, every time a photographer wins something, their nominated village hall will also win some money. So as we said, the first prize is £1,000 for the village hall and £500 for the winning photographer. Five prizes in all going down to £50 for the village hall and £25 for photographer. So…

Johnny Thomson 02:13
Yeah I understand that the total prize fund is almost £3,000 Gavin, so many thanks for tha, first of all. And I imagine that could be a big help to many village halls after everything that everyone’s been going through recently.

Gavin Mitchell 02:27
Well, indeed, it’s been a traumatic year. And, you know, everyone’s had to try and reinvent themselves and what to do and how they do it. And, yeah, it’s been a, it’s been quite a momentous year for us all in so many different ways.

Johnny Thomson 02:40
Now, for our part here at The Village Halls Podcast, we’re going to be running the competition, managing the entries through our website and spreading the word in the coming months. But both Gavin and I will be judging the photo competition. So what we thought was we’d come together today and explain a little bit about what we’re looking for in your photos, and of course, how you can enter and what some of the rules are. So, Gavin, let’s start with you. What’s the theme for this year’s photo competition?

Gavin Mitchell 03:09
Well, the theme this year, Johnny is really ‘village life and community spirit’. And hopefully, that’s not too prescriptive. I think you were a judge previously with us Johnny and we were really surprised at some of the entries that come in, the diversity and the range of different things. So I think it’s great to leave that up to the photographer and the local community to present us with whatever they want to do within that sort of village life and community spirit framework.

Johnny Thomson 03:36
Yeah, it’s all kind of open to interpretation, isn’t it? Which is how, how we sort of want it to be. What what makes a good photo, Gavin, for you?

Gavin Mitchell 03:45
I think what makes a good photo is a good story, something that encapsulates maybe a bit of fun, something about the rural community. Particularly with this competition, I think, as long as there’s a sense that it’s about the rural community that that’s, that to me is quite important. But I like photos and certainly from the previous entries that we’ve had in the past, photos to tell a story photos that are amusing, interesting, but a lot of photos have great stories behind them. And I think that’s what makes them most interesting.

Johnny Thomson 04:17
Yeah, I think there is something emotional something, something funny is you say, so I don’t know like a dog being chased from a butcher shop with a big chunk of meat in its mouth, that would be great. I don’t want anybody going out now and trying to stage that one, though. You know, staged photos can sometimes look a little bit obvious, can’t they? So don’t be knocking on your butcher door and trying to get your dog in there, you know, we do want to we do want to take the blame for any of that.

Gavin Mitchell 04:46
No, nor do we want any of my team taking insurance claims because of this competition!

Johnny Thomson 04:52
Because of stolen meat, yeah. Brilliant. I remember, I think it was last year Matty Simpson’s photos which was submitted for Great Salkeld Village Hall, which I remember took second place. It featured a man who was about a catch, or was he about to drop an egg, as part of some crazy activity at their annual Sports Day, and you could see and really feel the anticipation in the photo from the crowd, and just from the whole momemnt. And I really loved that one and that’s a great example. But for me, any any photo that transmits any strong feeling. So not just humour, it could be warmth, it can be togetherness, it could be mystery, could even be some sadness You know that kind of thing will always stand out. So all I would say is see is for me and Gavin’s sick, make it something inspirational and meaningful, as well as something beautiful, if you can, and, and one of those prizes could be yours. Yeah?

Gavin Mitchell 05:49
Absolutely. Absolutely Johnny. I mean, I think some of the some of the interesting podcasts that have actually come out very recently, and I mentioned the word reinventing earlier on, really some of the things that some of the villages and village halls and rural communities have been doing, especially with the lockdown and so on and so forth. You know, helping with mental health and keeping people occupied and various, various things. They’ve kind of reinvented their life a little bit in rural communities. And that might be quite nice as per these podcasts, perhaps even see that in a in a photographic sense.

Johnny Thomson 06:24
Great idea. Let’s cover some of the rules. You’ve got to take the photo in the UK. Yeah?

Gavin Mitchell 06:30
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s all about, you know, the wonderful villages in the UK, it’s got to be British based UK based. That’s, that’s, that’s absolutely crucial. So I really don’t want to see something from a village in Australia, South Africa or Canada. And I’m looking forward to seeing photographs coming in from all corners of the country, from the Isle of Skye to the Home Counties, and everywhere in between. It’d be great to see some geographical diversity as indeed is already happening with some of your podcasts Johnny.

Johnny Thomson 07:02
And it doesn’t have to be a new photo does it? You know, if you’ve got something classic lying in your catalogues there, you can you can always dig that out as well. Yeah?

Gavin Mitchell 07:10
Absolutely. I mean, indeed, if there’s a something that somebody got and they’re very proud of it, and it kind of represents the general feel of what we’re trying to achieve, yeah, it doesn’t have to have been taken this week, this month, this year, whatever. It’s just something that really represents that whole community spirit.

Johnny Thomson 07:27
Okay, and to enter, enter the competition.It’s all about heading to a page on our website, which is So that’s photo-competition. Here, you’ll find more details about the competition itself, a link to the rules and of course, an entry form. And don’t worry, if you can’t remember that page, by the way, there’s a button from today on our homepage that will just take you right to it. So just go to One of the things we’re doing Gavin is trying to accommodate smartphones as well, as much as we can this year. It doesn’t have to be a professional DSLR camera or anything like that, does it?

Gavin Mitchell 08:12
No, not at all. Not at all. I mean, everyone takes photographs nowadays and on their smartphones. In fact, some smartphones have incredible capabilities. I’ve given up using my camera now and I just use my smartphone all the time, I’ve completely given up with the camera. So it’s not about being, it’s not about being a professional photographer, it’s it’s point click snap, it’s all about, it’s all about what’s in the photograph as much as the as much as the artistic merits of the photograph.

Johnny Thomson 08:41
And to help with the smartphones as well as the standard, and I’m getting technical here, you know .JPG and .PNG files, we’re going to try and allow .WEBP and .HEIF which are things which your Apple iPhone and your Android phone might take as well. So hopefully it’ll be nice and smooth for everybody and they’ll be able to use their phones as well. And we’re happy this year as well to allow as many entries as anyone wishes as well Gavin yes?

Gavin Mitchell 09:10
Yeah, I think that’s important. And what we’ve done in the past is we’ve tried to encourage, for example, village halls to put a notice up on their notice board to try and get everyone in the village involved. So that, you know, the photographer, whoever, whatever member of communities, taking of the communities taking the photograph can win some money, but as importantly, the village hall can can win some money. And you know, they can all help with the village hall, which is really what it’s all about. And so if they put a notice in the village hall notice board, get everyone involved, get everyone involved and take some photographs. And it doesn’t matter how many photographs any individual takes. It doesn’t matter how many photographs come from a village or a rural community. You know, the more photos the better. That’s the approach we’re taking.

Johnny Thomson 09:57
Brilliant. Yeah, and to help with that if you if you want to promote competition to your local or your regional community there’s actually an image on that photo competition page that I mentioned before that you can copy over to your own website if you want. And there’s a leaflet on there as well, it kind of flyer, which you can download too. And as I say all that’s on the on the competition page on the website. Finally, we’ll be putting all accepted entries onto a special gallery page on The Village Halls Podcast website as well. And also showing them off on our Instagram page too, as well as Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #wonderfulvillages2021. So make sure, if you can, follow us on those too. We’ll be announcing the results later in the year on YouTube as well, so don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. And that remains me as well. The closing date, that’s the 21st November isn’t it Gavin, which seems like a long way away, but there’s a reason for that, isn’t there?

Gavin Mitchell 10:56
Oh, absolutely. Because we want to get everyone in the community involved. We want to spread the word, we want to give people plenty of time to get sorted out. They may have a photograph, as we said earlier on in their in their archives or their photo gallery, but they may want to go and take some nice photographs. So you know summers coming, you know they might already have a few photos in mind and suddenly in summer there’s a fantastic day and they take a great photograph, especially with with easing of lockdown and more people getting together and you know, communities coming together again, and God willing everything getting back towards normal again. But yeah, it allows everyone to tell everyone else about it and submit as many photos as you like.

Johnny Thomson 11:38
Perfect, well hopefully that’s enough for everybody to be getting on with. That page again, to visit is Pay a visit and start uploading. We’re really looking forward to seeing all of your images. And thanks again Gavin, does that just about cover everything for you?

Gavin Mitchell 11:58
Yeah, that’s fantastic, Johnny, I think let’s get the word out, let’s get some photographs in. And let’s get some let’s get some fun on that website. And let’s see what people can people can supply from their villages. Let’s see what we can do.

Johnny Thomson 12:11
Yeah, and if you’ve got any questions, simply drop us an email to And yeah, thanks again for joining me today Gavin and of course for all your help from Allied Westminster supporting our podcast.

Gavin Mitchell 12:25
Our pleasure Johnny, it’s great to speak to you again. Thank you.

Johnny Thomson 12:27
And you can discover more about the service that Gavin and his company provide at And a quick mentioned to online booking system provider Hallmaster too. Don’t forget they’re offering a £10 discount for our listeners for any orders placed at until the end of June. You can find a discount code on the sponsors page of our website. You’ve been listening to The Village Halls Podcast, a unique listening community for Britain’s village, church and community halls and anyone interested in the vital community services they provide. We’ll be back again in two weeks time with another episode. So if you haven’t already, please visit to subscribe, sign up for updates link to our social media pages and to find out more. Really looking forward to seeing all your photos and until next time. Good bye for now.