Topsham is one of the best places to live in the UK - and that’s official!
The town has had the honour of making it into the prestigious Sunday Times Best Places list, one of only two locations in Devon to make the grade.
Judges selected this year’s entries for the sought-after league table on the basis of how beautiful the location was, the quality of local services and amenities, and how well the area worked for its community during the pandemic.
The newspaper celebrates Topsham’s traditional qualities of having former merchants’ houses and maritime warehouses lining the Exe, and a very large number of independent shops with new ones opening even during the past difficult year.
It also lavishes praise on Topsham’s community spirit, describing the town as one full of “inveterate club-joiners, cause-supporters and event-organisers” and the volunteer-run Museum was listed as a place visitors should make sure they see.
Two prominent local groups were singled out for special mention.
Estuary League of Friends’ chair Marilyn Ramsden told the paper that 170 local people had volunteered to help the charity’s staff during the pandemic. She said: ”The pandemic arrived and Topsham rallied; neighbours, businesses, charities worked together to help with shopping, meals and loneliness.”
Community interest company Love Topsham was also praised for acting as a cheerleader for the town, providing additional outdoor facilities and street music during the past year, and starting work with some cafes to become more eco-friendly.
Love Topsham volunteer Ned Hoste, a graphic designer, moved to Topsham from York in 2019. He works from home having originally been an Exeter Art College student in the 1980s.
He says: “It’s fantastic news for Topsham to be included in this list. We’ve always recognised the town as special and this is a ringing endorsement. The residents, business community and groups can be proud of the part they’ve played.”
Throughout the pandemic the Love Topsham website was the go-to noticeboard for the town, covering activities from recruiting volunteers, through fund-raising for charity, and keeping residents updated on what shops offered what services.
In recent months Love Topsham has helped residents, visitors and local takeaways with the provision of benches in the town, has lifted spirits through hosting an Angel of the South sculpture by local artist Brendan Rawlings, and has been the driving force behind Topsham’s Christmas lights and Covid-safe celebrations.
Ned Hoste continues: “As we emerge out of lockdown over the next few weeks we’ll see that community spirit at its best; it will be great to be open for business again.”
Love Topsham has a programme of Covid-safe events for the spring, including the unveiling of a new artwork in the grounds of St Margaret’s Church, street music and bunting to celebrate the re-opening of shops, and the launch of plans for a second annual Big Afternoon Tea. More details of all of those are on lovetopsham.co.uk.