Beach Hut of the Year 2016: The Judges

Entries for Beach Hut of the Year 2016 are coming in fast - meet our judging panel and don't forget to enter the competition before 12pm on 8th June.

Phil Spencer, Beach Hut of the Year judge

Phil Spencer, Television Presenter

Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. As co-presenter of the long-running Channel 4 series 'Location, Location, Location' he has become one of the best-known faces on British television and is widely credited as being an expert in all things property related. Over the past 13 years he has hosted numerous TV series and continues to be an anchor for Channel 4 viewing figures. Phil first joined the Beach Hut of the Year judging panel in 2015 and is delighted to be back.

“Being a judge in last year’s competition was a lot of fun, so I’m back to help find the nation’s best beach hut of 2016. Last year the competition was fierce and I’m hoping, and expecting, this year will be even more popular. Beach huts are an enduring part of British life, so it’s right that we celebrate them with this competition.”

Charlotte Vowden, Beach Hut of the Year judge

Charlotte Vowden, Journalist, The Sunday Times

Charlotte Vowden is a journalist and digital editor on The Sunday Times Home section. As the publication's unofficial beach hut correspondent she seizes every opportunity to write about Britain's iconic seaside structures. In her reporting on the subject, she has discovered everything from huts that hover above the sands on stilts, to one that rotates to follow the sun. This will be her first time on the judging panel.

“Some of my fondest childhood memories include summers spent at a beach hut in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex. It was an unglamorous wood construction without running water or colourful paintwork, but it was great! We shared it with other families and it was always full of laughter, sand, buckets, spades and tupperware boxes brimming with sandwiches and cakes. With huts being so hard to come by today, I’m hoping to discover something traditional with a modern twist, that’s truly loved and shared by its owner.”

Dr Kathryn Ferry, Beach Hut of the Year judge

Dr Kathryn Ferry, Seaside Historian

Dr Kathryn Ferry is a historian and writer who specialises in seaside subjects. For her books 'Sheds on the Seashore: A tour through Beach Hut History' and 'Beach huts and bathing machines', she has researched hut history going back to eighteenth century bathing machines and toured the coast to visit most of Britain's beach hut sites.

“Britain can boast some fantastic beach huts. I counted nearly 20,000 when I made my beach hut odyssey in 2002 and more have been added since then. I'm thrilled to be on the panel judging this year’s competition to find the best of the best. These little structures have a surprisingly long history and their appeal shows no sign of diminishing. The pride people take in their seaside 'home-from-home' is evident all around the coast so I'd encourage every hut owner out there to sign up and tell us what makes their hut special.”

Pete Samson, Beach Hut of the Year judge

Pete Samson, Beach Hut Designer

Pete Samson has been building high end luxury beach huts for over 10 years, and with over 200 huts built to date he is very well positioned to comment on all things "beach hut". Pete ‘s company, Ecologic Developments, is proud of the fact that it promotes low carbon holidaying - helping people to appreciate that the British seaside is hard to beat as long as the sun is shining. Pete and the team at Ecologic have beach hut building contracts running nationwide and are working alongside local councils to deliver up to date overnight huts at a number of exciting new sites across the south coast. 

“I’m super excited to be part of this year’s judging panel. Beach huts have been hitting the headlines for years, especially in Mudeford where I’ve been lucky enough to have a family hut for over 25 years. I spent my summers growing up in and around the huts, forming life-long friendships, messing around on the water and living a simple outdoor life with friends and family. When it comes to judging I’ll be focusing my attention on neat space saving ideas and the overall functionality of the small spaces. I’m hoping to be surprised by good old British ingenuity inside the huts and very much look forward to getting involved.”

Jane Ashmore, Beach Hut of the Year judge

Jane Ashmore, 2015 Winner

Jane joins our panel as the winner of Beach Hut of the Year 2015. Her beautiful hut  ‘Betty’ in West Mersea, Essex, captured the imaginations of the judges and public alike and scooped top prize. ‘Betty’ was styled with a shabby-chic retro, vintage interior, with all items sourced from local charity shops. Jane lets the hut out to friends and family through her business ‘The Little Beach Hut Company’ and also regularly lets it out to local charities free of charge.

“I was shocked to win the competition last year against such strong finalists and I’m genuinely delighted to be able to come back and judge this time around. Beach huts remind us all of a simpler way of life and I ‘ll be looking out for huts that really reflect this.”

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