When Barry Marchant moved into his bungalow at Barcelona Crescent in Wroughton, it’s probably fair to say he didn’t give a thought to his neighbours. However, fast forward to the retirement years and Barry suddenly found his health was in decline. He lost his beloved wife, Jean, and became too ill even to make his own way to the hospital for treatment.

That’s when his neighbours, Allan and Wilhelmina Evans, stepped up to the mark. When Barry had hospital appointments, Allan would offer to drive and wait while his neighbour had treatment. When Barry was recovering, his neighbours shopped for him and brought him cooked meals. When the garden that Barry’s wife Jean so loved to tend, became too much, green fingered Allan stepped in to keep the garden looking ship-shape. Barry thought he could never thank his neighbours enough, until now…

On seeing the estate agent, Only Bungalows’ competition to find the best neighbour in North Wiltshire, back in January, Barry nominated his neighbours and by now friends Allan and Wilhelmina. Despite a huge number of entries and some very stiff competition, the pair were announced as the Only Bungalows Good Neighbours of the Year 2018, this morning. This came as a complete and wonderful shock to Allan, who didn’t even know he’d been nominated! He was also delighted to hear that the prize was an all-expenses paid meal for two at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Marlborough with transport to and from the venue by chauffeur-driven limousine – and a garden statue as a memento.

To present the prize to Mr and Mrs Evans, was Pauline Mapson of property development company, Bower Mapson, who have coincidentally just finished a niche collection of four new properties nearby in Suter’s Lane, Wanborough. Mrs Mapson gave the lucky winners their card and offered her congratulations along with a stunning commemorative sundial to further adorn their lovely garden in Wroughton. Also, to thank Barry for his nomination, Only Bungalows gave the fortunate neighbour a cash prize of £100.

On being asked what made his neighbours so special, Barry said: “They’ve just been so good to me. They’ve been an absolute crutch and helped me a lot when I was so poorly. They really are the best neighbours in the world.”

Susan Leeburn, Local Director of Only Bungalows in Swindon said: “I see so many people who move house because they no longer feel connected to the community around them. It’s really heart-warming to see neighbours who not only get on, but who are ready to go the extra mile to make life better for others. When we read Barry’s story about his illness and his late wife’s garden being tended by his neighbours, we knew we’d found a winner.”

On being asked when Allan and Wilhelmina might plan a visit to Rick Stein’s restaurant – the prize of which, can be taken at any time – Allan joked “when I’m good and hungry!” with a rub of his belly.