RESIDENTS in Highcliffe are celebrating after the Dorset town was named one of the friendliest neighbourhoods in the UK.

The seaside village was recognised as one of Britain’s friendliest communities in women’s weekly magazine Take A Break.

The village is supported by the Highcliffe Action Team, a community group consisting of local residents and business leaders.

Its communications officer Jane Dean said: “On behalf of HAT (Highcliffe Action Team), it’s such a fitting accolade for Highcliffe to be recognised as one of Britain’s friendliest neighbourhoods.

“I believe some of the reasons our village has been short-listed is because we support each other as a valued and trusted community, particularly when times get tough. During the past year, Highcliffe has shown itself to be such a caring and compassionate neighbourhood when addressing the needs of others before their own.

“Our local high street sent hampers of supplies and treats to its medical centre, by way of thanks. The majority of our shopkeepers are known to their customers by name and shop local has never been more valued, nor supported.”

Since the group was set up in 2018, the community association has produced a five-mile visitor’s walking map, illustrated by local artist Wendy Brown, organised the Christmas lights and hosted two switch-ons.

They also created a #LoveHighcliffe collection of branded products, from coasters and mugs to beach towels and tote bags which are available from Highcliffe Castle shop and Occasions Post Office.

As part of non-essential shops reopening on April 12, the group collaborated with the Highcliffe In Bloom team with the planting of flowers and hanging baskets in the high street, and installed 44 “welcome” flags along the high street, financed by Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council.

Jane added: “Our future wish list includes a traditional finger post to be installed by our beach shelters, overlooking the coast.

“We would like to have a band stand, with power, erected either on our village green or on the grassed area overlooking the sea. We could then host live music events outside throughout the year and it could be beautifully lit at Christmas.

"We are looking to bring back a vibrant weekly market to our high street and install more hanging baskets and bunting or lamppost banners to dress our high street.

“Also, to coincide with Natural England’s potential plans to extend the coastal path from Devon and Cornwall which may well end at Chewton Bunny, we will look to erect a fitting statue on Chewton Bunny."