Gateside in Fife is UK’s friendliest street
IT IS an idyllic bolthole where even if you cannot prune the hedgerows or rewire a plug, it doesn’t matter, because a friendly neighbour is always willing to lend a hand.
Residents of a Fife village who carry out tasks such as bike repairs or maths tutoring for one another are celebrating after being voted the friendliest community in Britain.
The enclave of Gateside, north-west of Glenrothes, has been recognised in a nationwide competition by a major supermarket chain.
Judges praised the 200-strong community for the way people “share their skills” and have awarded the village a £5,000 prize for its vibrant, co-operative spirit.
Gateside, the only Scottish community to make the shortlist, triumphed over five other areas to take home the UK’s Friendliest Street award.
All the other contenders were in England: in Wigan; Tunbridge Wells; North Yorkshire; Ashby De La Launde, Lincolnshire; and Wallsend, Tyneside.
After reading details of the competition run by Tesco, Hannah Phillips, a member of Gateside and District Community Association, decided to nominate the village and she was delighted when it took 32 per cent of the public vote.
She said: “We’re absolutely ecstatic to have won. Despite being a small community, everyone’s got really behind the competition. One of the neighbours has been speaking to everyone who comes into the local pub about it.
“I honestly didn’t expect us to win because Gateside is just a wee village. Not many people outside of Fife have perhaps even heard of it, but it is a wonderful place to live and it is full of generous people who would do anything for anyone so it definitely does deserve the title.
“In Gateside, the majority of people are exceptionally nice. We know that nowhere’s perfect but, looking at the big picture, we’re extremely lucky to live here.”
Far from the village stereo-type as a sleepy place that time forgot, the judges paid tribute to the array of modern skills that people shared with their neighbours.
A spokesman for Tesco magazine said: “Everyone in the street shares their skills – from maths tutoring to bike repairs. Even the teens get involved by baby-sitting.”
He added: “Residents came together to clear an overgrown pathway and to plant flowers and shrubs on the street and in people’s gardens. One resident even provides a free taxi service for people going to hospital appointments, while another mows people’s lawns.”
Ms Phillips, 35, said: “The people of Gateside have always been good at recommending people and skills to each other – one husband is an electrician, another an expert on trees.
“Between us, we know someone who can fix it, lend it or get it. We lend out teenagers for babysitting and pass on our children’s outgrown clothes to the neighbours.
“It’s not only our skills that we share – it’s our stuff. Once, we spontaneously collected a group to dig out an enormous climbing frame and carry it half a mile down the road to another garden where younger children were more in need of it.
“When there are bigger jobs to do, we can rely on a community that will pull together.”
Located at the head of the Howe of Fife, the village was built on the site of the Chapel of St Mary of Dungaitside which belonged to the monks of Balmerino Abbey on the Tay estuary.
In common with other small communities, Gateside has endured the loss of key services down the years including its railway station and post office.
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