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Helen Upward from Minster, Sheppey, in line for Towergate Insurance's Beach Hut of the Year award.

A Minster beach hut has been short-listed for a nationwide award.

Helen Upward’s stilted, seaside abode is one of 35 standing proud along the Leas.

Like many of the others, her’s has been tastefully decorated inside and out, so much so, it’s in the running to win Beach Hut of the Year.

The annual competition, run by Towergate Insurance, has been whittled down to 10 finalists who featured in the Sunday Times newspaper at the weekend.

An online public vote is already underway to decide a top three, with the overall winner being chosen by a panel chaired by Phil Spencer, the presenter best known for C4’s Location,Location, Location.

Helen's beach hut along Minster Leas.
Helen's beach hut along Minster Leas.

Should she triumph, Helen, of Sexburga Drive, Minster, will win £1,000 for Minster Beach Hut Association and a year’s free hut insurance.

If that wasn’t enough, she also stands to host Mr Spencer who will visit the victorious entrant’s “coastal castle”.

Helen, who has spent £500 on the hut, said the top-10 nomination came as some surprise as her decision to enter the contest was taken at the 11th hour.

She’s now hoping Islanders resident or removed will get clicking to ensure her hut takes the prize.

“The more votes we get, the more chance we have to put Minster-on-Sea on the map,” she said.

The interior of Helen's beach hut.
The interior of Helen's beach hut.

With a blue exterior and a pink interior, Helen’s hut is practical and prepossessing.

Her husband Colin built its mini-kitchen while a friend knitted a 10in seagull, one of a number of striking adornments.

Another is a pink chandelier, a glamorous accessory to the birthday parties and Pimms-led afternoon teas Helen is fond of hosting.

A painting of the huts as seen from the cliffs was provided by her sister, but the tastefully appointed bunting and curtains are Helen’s handiwork.

Helen, who worked at NatWest in Sheerness before taking early retirement five years ago, said she was thrilled to take possession of a beach hut when the initial allocation was built in 2013.

Helen Upward from Minster, Sheppey,outside her beach hut.
Helen Upward from Minster, Sheppey,outside her beach hut.

She knows she faces tough opposition from fellow finalists if hers is to be named the UK’s best.

“Some of the others look fantastic, and the owners really went to town to make them look fantastic,” she said.

Voting for Beach Hut of the Year continues until Tuesday.

To take part, visit www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/bhoty

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