Blue Flag Award cements Westward Ho! status as prime holiday destination for 2021

Published: 17 May 2021

Charity reveals country’s best beaches with announcement of Blue Flag and Seaside Awards for 2021

As the UK looks forward to a post Covid recovery the South West is poised to become one of the destinations of choice as families plan their holidays for this year’s summer vacation getaway. The further easing of restrictions has also coincided with the charity, Keep Britain Tidy, announcing the 76 Blue Flag and 132 Seaside Awards for the year and Westward Ho! is once again in the elite group of just 56 that have received both accolades. 

The Blue Flag is widely considered to be the gold standard for beaches and as such is internationally recognised. While most people are aware that the certification guarantees the quality of the bathing water this is only part of the criteria on which beaches are judged. To qualify to fly the Blue Flag the beach must satisfy standards in four categories and against 33 individual targets covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services.

Backed by the pebble ridge and Northam Burrows Country Park, the golden sands of Westward Ho! beach stretch for over 2 miles at low tide. Popular with visitors throughout the year, the award supports its claim to be the area’s premier seaside destination. Westward Ho! also became the focus of national attention earlier this year when community led initiatives saw the resort become the first in the country to ban the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards with over 16,000 of these discarded on our beaches up and down the country each year. A beach clean 4 beach toys scheme was also launched in May in a bid to recycle collected beach plastic into brand new beach toys such as buckets and spades. Torridge Council and rangers have given their full backing to these initiatives aimed at encouraging responsible beach use, which is a key element in the Blue Flag and UK Seaside Awards.

Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin Leader Member for Community, Culture and Leisure said:

 “We’re very lucky in Torridge to have such a fantastic beach at Westward Ho! that has consistently achieved the Blue Flag award for over 18 years in a row. It also backs onto Northam Burrows which is another important asset for rare Wildlife and Plant species. A better awareness of plastic issues in our marine environment has only increased interest in beaches that meet the strict criteria for cleanliness and the partnerships with community group initiatives are something we can all be proud of.

In addition to all of this one of the important criteria of the Blue Flag award is environmental education. Blue Flag beaches have to run a minimum of five educational activities for the local community and visitors to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment. Rangers at Northam Burrows do a fantastic job in running programmes for Schools and the General Public right through the year. The extended and refurbished visitor centre opening this summer will also add new exhibition space and facilities to boost the education programme further as well as offering a new Café and important changing places facility for disabled visitors. We really can't wait to see everyone enjoying everything that Westward Ho! has to offer  and the new facilities this summer.”