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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the July 2016 issue

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Heckington may be classed as a village because of its size and population, but its character and facilities are more akin to that of a small town.

With a whole variety of independent businesses, a diverse range of tourist attractions and easy transport links, there is no wonder it is a popular place to live, work and visit.

It even has its own railway station, served by the Grantham to Skegness train service, and it is also home to the largest annual village show in the country which attracts more than 30,000 visitors to the area every year.

Heckington, dubbed the largest village in Lincolnshire, lies just off the busy A17 bypass between Sleaford and Swineshead Bridge. It has a very pro-active community and is well serviced by its parish council.

The Council Chambers in St Andrew’s Street, a redundant church building bought four years ago and transformed into a new village community centre, acts as an Access Point for North Kesteven District Council as well as an information point for residents.

It is also home to the new village library, which only opened in December 2015 but has proved exceptionally popular.

Heckington parish clerk Julie Hudson said: “We are getting on average 300 people a month into the library. It is entirely run by volunteers and has been very successful. We used to have the mobile library but having a fixed static library is much better.

“There are two computers in there that people can use as well and they can even return books here that they have borrowed from other libraries.”

The library is open from 10am to 12noon every day apart from Wednesdays when it is open from 10am to 5pm.

“Now word is getting around it is quite a benefit to the village.”

At the moment the parish council is keeping a close eye on developments across the A17 regarding the plans by Ecotricity to install a wind farm in nearby Heckington Fen.

“We are quite involved in the ongoing application for the wind farm. There is going to be a big impact on residents in Heckington from the wind farm, so we are following developments quite keenly.”

Another issue being raised by members of the community, which the parish council is watching closely, is an application to build fifty additional houses on a field on Boston Road in the village.

“We have had quite a few residents come in concerned about that because their gardens back onto the field, so there is quite a lot of interest in it,” said Julie.

Heckington is also home to the Heritage Lincolnshire Trust which occupies the former National School building in Cameron Street. The charity is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has a number of special events planned to coincide with the Heckington Show.

A spokesman said: “We’ve achieved an incredible amount over the years including raising £25 million, saving eight historic buildings from dereliction and increasing participation in the annual Heritage Open Days festival to more than 25,000 visitors.

“We are the most active Buildings Preservation Trust in the East Midlands and over the past twenty-five years we’ve created 250 jobs and offered many more training and work experience opportunities.

“An estimated 400,000 people have participated in activities provided by Heritage Lincolnshire and many more have benefited from visiting one of our heritage sites, or living in an area regenerated through our conservation work.”

Heckington has a fair few unique and historical buildings in the village including Pocklington’s Mill which is recognised as the only remaining eight-sail windmill in the country, the Church of St Andrew which is considered to be an outstanding example of the decorated period and is an ecclesiastical building of national repute and The Nags Head, one of the oldest buildings in the village which is of considerable historical significance.

Even the telephone kiosk on the village green next to the almshouses is a Grade II listed structure being of the distinctive form designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935. And the signal box at Heckington Station is also Grade II listed, being embellished with elaborate curvilinear traceried bargeboards.

One building, however, has not fared as well over the centuries. Heckington Manor, off Church Street, was in its original form a typical building of about 1700 constructed on an H-plan with a hipped roof. Having been rebuilt in 1909, it has extensive later alterations and additions but it has been derelict for a number of years and there are now plans in the pipeline to demolish it.

Parish clerk Julie Hudson said: “It is well known that it is unsafe and the current owner has applied for permission to demolish it. The general consensus is that the Manor House is not of historical value to the village, it is not a listed building and it is unsafe, so there is no opposition to the proposal to demolish it.”

The village can still pride itself on Heckington Hall, which is another Grade II listed building and the only example of its kind in the area. It was built in the late 1860s for William Little in the Carolean revival style and the interior retains many original features.

The Hall sits within the remains of the historic Parkland originally associated with the house and which provides the perfect location for the village show held annually every July.

HECKINGTON WINDMILL
The past year has been full steam ahead for the unique Heckington Windmill project team as the planned site developments slowly come to fruition.

Building work to convert the old Bakehouse back into a working kitchen and demonstration area has been completed and preparations are being made for work to start on the Granary and Mill House phases.

Miller Jim Bailey, who is also a director of the Heckington Windmill Trust and trustee of the charity said: “Things are going on apace. The Bakehouse restoration and refit is now complete thanks to the Heritage Lottery grant. It is now fitted out and restored as a kitchen and demonstration area and our Baking Club has been established and is using the facility.”

The Bakehouse is being used to provide the cakes, biscuits and bread for the on-site Windmill tea rooms.

“It is also used by the Baking Club, which encourages people to come in, use the facilities to bake and learn new skills and hopefully, they will then volunteer to work in the windmill,” said Jim.

Preparations are now being made for work to be carried out on the Millhouse and the transformation of the Old Granary and cart shed.

“Plans have been drawn up for the renovation of the Millhouse and subject to planning permission, we hope that work will start in October,” said Jim.

“We are also hoping that the work on transforming the Old Granary and cart shed into a visitor centre will start in the summer but this is subject to us successfully raising additional funds. The work is expected to be completed by Easter next year.”

As well as the renovation work, there have been other exciting developments at the Mill.

“In the past year, we have acquired a Ruston Hornsby engine and been loaned a set of millstones on a Hurst frame,” said Jim.

“As part of the Heritage Lottery grant these millstones will be installed on the ground floor of the mill and driven by the Ruston Hornsby engine which will sit in its own engine shed.

“This will also be completed by Easter next year and it will allow us to mill independently of the wind and will also enable us to teach milling to disabled people.”

The windmill project has been running for seven years following the purchase of the historic buildings and land around it from the Pocklington family who owned it for nearly 125 years.

Being awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £990,200 late in 2012 was the beginning of an exciting journey for the windmill, its trustees and the villagers of Heckington.

“The project has been running for seven years and most of that was spent fundraising and getting plans drawn up and the relevant permissions, so it is good to see things moving on and progressing well,” said Jim.

EAST HECKINGTON
Three miles from Heckington lies the linear settlement of East Heckington, which is smaller than its counterpart and spread across two parishes – Heckington and Great Hale.

It boasts a range of interesting and complementary businesses including Abbey Parks Farm Shop and Elm Grange Studios.

Abbey Parks is a family-run business, which has its roots in the farming industry, but which continues to diversify and offer new products and services.

It was started by farmer Nick Loweth and his wife Ros, farmers in Lincolnshire for a number of years. Son Harry and daughter Sophie decided to return to work in the business after working in London since leaving university.

Currently, the business comprises a farming operation, a café and bistro, a deli and shop, along with catering services and private dining and you can also find a choice of antiques and jewellery.

The business supplies fresh produce, including its seasonal speciality asparagus, to hotels and restaurants across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. And, in an innovative move, it has developed i-Grow, an online allotments enterprise for people who want to ‘grow their own’, without all the hard work!

Elm Grange Studios is home to an eclectic mix of businesses. If you are looking to give your home a facelift, fancy a spot of personal pampering or just want to take time out for afternoon tea, the studios are worth a visit.

Interiors expert Clive Owen took over the well-established practice there in 2011, having originally establishing his first practice in Louth in 1982.

Ecotricity has plans to build up to twenty-two wind turbines on agricultural land to the north of the A17 near East Heckington.

The scheme was granted consent by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in February 2013. Last year Ecotricity decided to apply for a variation of the original consent, largely based on altering some sections of the onsite access track, relocating the onsite substation and increasing the rotor diameter of the turbines to maximise the renewable energy generation of the site.

But following a Department of Energy and Climate Change consultation process for the latest amendments, which officially ended on February, a new action group was launched to fight the proposals.

BUTCHER’S CHALLENGE
Having expertise and passion for your chosen profession is a winning formula that is hard to beat.

Such is the case for Gary Simpson who started his butchery business single-handedly in Heckington in 2000 and developed it into a thriving enterprise adding shops in Sleaford, Stamford, Spalding, Lincoln and South Hykeham.

Simpsons Butchers has won a string of awards along the way, with the most recent title of Britain’s Best Butchers Shop for 2015-16 capping off an impressive rise to the very elite of the butchery profession for Gary and his dedicated team.

Many more awards have been awarded to Simpsons over the years, including all six stores being accepted into the prestigious Q-Guild of Butchers – an exclusive group of only 110 businesses in England, Scotland and Wales.

Gary has recently been chosen to represent Team GB in The World Butchers’ Challenge in Queensland this September as part of the six-strong home team and is delighted and honoured to represent GB on a world stage.

This is quite a remarkable achievement for a first generation butcher, with no family history in the industry, although it’s no surprise to anyone who knows Gary or works with him.

COUNTY CONNECTIONS ON LINCOLNSHIRE’S BIG STAGE
Lincolnshire breeds a curious self-reliance – sometimes we’re East Midlands, sometimes Yorkshire and sometimes East Anglia.

The result is that Lincolnshire pulls together to make stuff happen and make its voice heard and nowhere is this more evident than at Heckington Show. The show’s capacity to combine the intimacy of a village show with the quality of a county event is a key part of the recipe. Big audiences (over 30,000 is now the norm) provide encouragement and bring out showstopping performances from entrants and competitors as well as exhibitors and demonstrators. And whilst we’re always pleased to welcome national or international involvement, it is the strength of both local and wider cross-county engagement that really makes the show a real spectacle in so many areas.

Whilst absorbing the great show atmosphere, visitors can shop til they drop with 200 stalls supporting many local manufacturers and charities but also bringing us purveyors of exotic produce and carvings from far corners of the globe. That atmosphere is wonderfully cranked up with the show’s ability to draw in exciting main ring attractions. This year the Backdraft wheelie-performing fire engine shares the stage with daring stunt performers the Atkinson Action Horses operating at speed on horses used for the filming of Poldark.

The 200 plus athletes competing for the coveted 10 mile road race trophy also do our county proud with runners rolling up from local clubs. The racing cyclists are wonderfully complemented by a regular display from another unique local group in the Boston & District Vintage Cycle Club with their Boneshakers and Penny Farthing.

The Show’s large and popular Heritage Zone both benefits from and helps promote a number of other local organisations – notably Heritage Lincolnshire who this year are linking their show stand to other live projects. Heckington is also a draw for national heritage groups and our county groups are notably complemented this year by the FANYs – WW1’s First Aid Nursing Yeomanry – with a colourful horse bound display honouring the thankless work done in the trenches 100 years ago.

Similarly the food court and hall are able to draw on Lincolnshire’s reputation as the Food County. Supporting local farmers and growers is integral to the role of the Heckington & District Agricultural Society which manages the whole show with Lincolnshire regulars including Grasmere Farm’s Hog Roast, Fen Farm’s Venison Burgers, Oslinc’s Ostrich Meat Steaks, Lincolnshire Poacher for Cheese and Shrub and Grub for artisan breads. Visitors who wander beyond the food court towards the village will enjoy the unique atmosphere created by the Horticulture and Concert Marquees.

County connections are also just as strong on four legs! Heckington has become the largest show for Lincolnshire Longwool Sheep and our annual shearing competition can be relied upon to deliver fleeces weighing above or close to world records. And no Lincolnshire event would be complete without Heavy (Shire) Horses.

So whether you come from Lincolnshire yourself or further afield, Heckington 2016 is certainly a weekend you can’t afford to miss. As ever it takes place at the village showground on the last weekend in July – this year falling on the 30th and 31st. You will be sure of a warm welcome.

PERFECT FOR EVERY OCCASION
Since the move to The Oak in 2014, Lindsey James has continued to grow, offering a bespoke service to regular and new customers.

Lindsey James has never tried to compete with the high street or online sales, by having the mantra that getting the fit, the look and receiving the guidance for the correct dress for the occasion are part of the experience they offer.

Hence there are a wide variety of garments to select from, be it a T-shirt or an outfit for an event.

Over recent weeks Lindsey James has been privileged to dress several ladies, who have had the honour to be presented to Her Majesty The Queen. For these occasions, which are indeed a great honour, there is such a lot to think about – bearing in mind that the person is obviously going to be nervous, the last thing they need to be worrying about is how they look! Personal shopping at Lindsey James is not a new experience, as they have been doing it for nearly 23 years.

Likewise, for ladies going on holiday, the team at Lindsey James meet the task with the same professionalism.

Whatever your reason for visiting, be it happy or sad, Lindsey James will try to offer empathy and understanding.

UPCOMING DATES FOR COUNTY BAND
Julie McLelland & The Band From County Hell have had a great run this spring, selling out at Lincolnshire theatres, supporting cult band New Model Army and doing a live recording of their original songs for the BBC. The band will be performing at Wellowfest, Wellow near Newark on Saturday 16th July and will be on stage around 8pm. Headlining the night are Bob Geldof & The Boomtown Rats, who will also be hosting a very special aftershow party. For ticket details: www.bfch.co.uk

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