2006 has been quite a year for Audlem

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This is the time of year when newspapers and TV programmes look back on the highlights of the past year. So, as Audlem Online has published almost 900 local news stories during 2006, we thought a quick review of the best would be in order.

2005 had, of course finished in style with Audlem declared the North of England Village of the Year and the national Defra Village for the whole of England for 'Building Community Life'. We were able to hold an evening of celebration in the Public Hall on 20th January 2006 to toast those successes and the launch of the Audlem Parish Plan and the Parish Council achieving Quality status, the first council in the area to do so. The Hall was packed and representatives from around the County came to celebrate with us.

A few days later and the Lord Combermere re-opened after a major re-furbishment. It has proved a hugely welcome change for the better, a bright, beautifully furnished non-smoking pub that is now a credit to the Square and is much used by the village and visitors.

There was success for the village and individual Audlem residents at the Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council's 'Oscars' evening when the village was involved in around 30% of the awards — not bad for a village with less that 2% of the borough's population!

The Webteam took particular pleasure from the opportunities provided by 1st April with somewhat creative stories — at least we thought so — including the discovery of WMDs in the Secret Bunker by our Defence Correspondent Avril Fouliere; the bid to transfer Audlem to Shropshire; the imminent arrival of three more coloured recycling bins and plans to convert St James' to a new Tesco. Some stories were even believed!

In May, Audlem held its Annual Village Meeting where it was announced by Shea O'Neill, the project manager, that the boundaries of the new Weaver Valley Regional Park would be extended to include Audlem as its southern gateway. As Audlem Online had kicked off the campaign to see the boundary extended further south than Nantwich, this was a real success. Since then, the Weaver Way has been launched by Martin Bell which will eventually see a footpath and cycleway from Audlem to the banks of the Mersey near Frodsham.

The Music & Arts Festival was a wonderful four days to report in May. We keep our fingers crossed that the Festival continues in 2007 — it really is a highlight of the year, as was the Open Gardens weekend, the Transport Festival and 'Proms on the Park', which was blessed with near perfect weather.

September saw further good news with Audlem winning the Best Kept Village award from Cheshire Community Council. During October, we were able to publish the detailed judges' comments over four days which made fascinating reading as it's always interesting to see how others see us.

The back end of the year saw Audlem Online involved in 'campaigns' over the emergency and essential services. A threat to Audlem's fire tender, which was in danger of being replaced with a small Transit-like van with a short ladder, disappeared after Peter Morgan published an article on the website. Local newspapers took up the story and Cheshire Fire Service had a welcome change of heart and decided to keep the fire tender in Audlem.

A 70 minute call-out by the Ambulance Service to an emergency in the village resulted in a series of stories which again were also run as front-page lead stories by local newspapers. As a result, we hope that the Ambulance Service will be at the next Community Action Meeting to explain how such things can happen and discuss the impact of the regionalisation of their service on communities like Audlem at the very edge of the region.

The other vital service under threat is the Post Office as news is still awaited on which 2,500 post offices will be axed. This news was meant to be announced before Christmas and Audlem Online has held back its monthly change of Vote Poll until we know what's to happen to the Post Office. We could well be asking if you would support responsible direct action to protest if the office was to be closed, but let's keep our fingers crossed Audlem isn't one of the communities that will be damaged by the loss of such an important facility.

Much else has happened as Audlem Methodist Church and both the Public Hall and the Scout & Guide Hall have undertaken successful and major refurbishment work. It was also good to announce that the Canal Shop would re-open next Easter under new management. And, of course, work is now underway at Moseley's Yard, although the earth moved a few too many times for many as extensive and deep pile-driving work was needed on the site in November.

On the sporting front, the regular reports from David Parry on yet another great season for Audlem Saints U8s are always a pleasure to publish, and we hope attract a young readership. Geoff Seddon also wrote excellent weekly reports on the cricket team. It wasn't a great season for Audlem — but significantly better than the current cricketing news from Australia!

With 900 stories to choose from, we've had to skim over the year. We'd like to thank all who have made things happen, contributed news stories, photographs and articles and wish them and all our readers a very happy 2007.