Published: 14:56, 12 June 2020
| Updated: 14:58, 12 June 2020
Roundabouts - some people loathe them, some people tolerate them, and others happen to love them.
The president of the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society has decided to include two Ashford junctions in this year's society calendar highlighting the nation's best examples.
Kevin Beresford saw a KentOnline article about the upcoming Flanders Roundabout - scheduled to be completed in July - and the recent installation of horses on the A20 Orchard Heights circular and got in touch.
The 68-year-old has now added them to the society's annual calendar, which is a shortlist for the 'Best British Roundabout' award and could see the pair nominated for the 'Best International Roundabout' gong.
He said: "In 2003, I was working at a printing business in Redditch and each year we'd make calendars for our customers.
"We got tired of doing the classics - David Beckham or firemen with six packs - so we wondered what Redditch is famous for and we realised it was roundabouts.
"After Graham Norton showed our first edition on his show, we sold thousands and we now sell them across the world."
Ever since, Mr Beresford has travelled the country looking for stand-out roundabouts and now has a committee to help decide which should be highlighted.
When asked what makes for a great example, the expert said: "Some people like 'Titchmarshes' - which are islands in full bloom - or white knuckle roundabouts like the Magic Roundabout in Swindon where you have to go in the opposite direction.
"I particularly like quirky ones where you see unique things - for example, last year's winner was one in Truro which features four giant hedgehogs."
When asked what is so great about roundabouts, Mr Beresford said: "They give councils a perfect opportunity to put a garden in the middle of a road.
"They're generally a lot more efficient and safer than traffic lights - they can reduce the number of accidents by 90% when compared to signalling systems, and reduce emissions by 40%.
"For me, they are so pleasing to the eye. They're like an oasis in a sea of concrete and tarmac."
The avid photographer did mourn his inability to go out and visit the shortlisted sites due to the Covid-19 lockdown, citing the picture-taking as one of his favourite hobbies.
The Redditch resident noted: "I like to see places where no-one would think to focus on. I don't just do roundabouts - I also do 'Prisons of England' and I'm the president of the Car Park Appreciation Society, which I've always found it difficult to recruit new members to."
So why does he believe the Ashford examples stand out from the crowd?
Kevin said: "I like the sporting aspect of the horse one because there's movement in it, it's not static.
"Also we've been starved of sporting events recently so it's that sort of thing that caught my eye.
"With the Flanders Roundabout, it's very topical and poignant what with the centenary two years ago and the 75th anniversary of VE Day this year.
"It really touches your heartstrings and it's amazing that a roundabout can do that.
"They really prove my point - you can have horses or you can have a war scene, roundabouts have such a wide array of variety."
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said they were delighted to hear that Flanders roundabout was being considered for inclusion in a calendar celebrating the best of British roundabouts.
He said: “We understand that the Roundabout Appreciation Society’s calendar is sold around the world and tends to attract considerable media and public interest.
"If the Flanders roundabout is included it will put Ashford on the map, in a roundabout way.”
If you've always appreciated a good roundabout, you can become a member of the appreciation society for £10 via its website.
More by this authorCharlie Harman
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