Rural churches and chapels are often the nucleus that binds communities together, and the Church of England and Country Life are looking for the often unsung volunteers of any denomination who quietly play a pivotal part in keeping them alive. Country Life is currently running The Village Church for Village Life Award, celebrating the role churches play in communities. We now want to find out about the individuals who keep local churches functioning.

Parishes may wish to nominate as unsung hero, for example, the organist, the flower-arranger, the cleaner, the person who cuts the grass and plants bulbs in the churchyard or who provides the coffee after morning service. They may have embroidered hassocks, written a history of the church, restored pews or run the Sunday school. Roles may include setting up a community shop, farmer’s market or post office within the church or its grounds, but remember that this competition is not about projects so much as the people who run them.

Judging procedure

A panel of distinguished judges, including the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Rev Anthony Russell; Mark Hedges, Editor of COUNTRY LIFE; James Naughtie, BBC Today programme presenter; Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery; Prof Judy Dunn of King’s College London; and Anne Sloman, from the Archbishops’ Council, will make a shortlist, and decide upon a winner. The trophy will be presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. COUNTRY LIFE will cover the competition in December 2009.

How to enter

Please complete the entry form below, attaching it to your nomination, which should be no more than 200 words long and accompanied by a photograph if possible. Competitors may nominate themselves, or be nominated by their parish collectively, minister or priest. Return the entry form to Louis Henderson, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ. For more information, telephone Mr Henderson on 020—7898 1621 or email him on lou.henderson@c-of-e.org.uk. Closing date is May 31, 2009.

For an entry form click here.
 

To read an introduction by Dr Rowan Williams click here