BEAUTIFUL countryside and friendly people are the things that make West Berkshire residents the most satisfied and happy in the county.
Following the NWN report last week that, according to a national survey, the district was the joint-happiest, least stressed and most satisfied with life in general, we wanted to find out just what puts a spring in our steps.
Retail worker and Newbury resident Chris Boury, 25, said: “In general, as a place to live it’s quite aesthetically pleasing.
“It is a nice place. It’s not inner city it’s quite calm and relaxed.”
While Pcso Sue Gillespie, who has spent the last 10 years patrolling the streets of Newbury, said: “It was a nice thing to hear and yes, generally people are lovely. There’s a lot of smiley people in Newbury.
“It’s lovely just walking down by the canal, it’s a lovely place to go.
“Everybody has their stresses and strains going on but it’s a really nice place to be – I’m very lucky.”
Also stopping to speak to the NWN were Chris Pearce and Laurie Symons, who were engaged last week.
Mr Pearce said: “We live in Hermitage and it just seems like everybody gets on with everybody.
“I used to live in Wiltshire and, as a place to live, West Berkshire is much better.
“They’ve got better amenities here and people are friendlier.
Ms Symons, who has lived in West Berkshire for nine years, said: “I grew up in Essex and have lived in London and everybody is so nice here.
“I think the countryside around you makes it feel like it’s a better place.
Mr Pearce added: “I’ve been working in the Middle East and you just come back here and everything is so green and lush, it’s lovely.
“In West Berkshire you’ve got some beautiful places around you.”
According to the survey by the Office for National Statistics, West Berkshire residents scored the district 7.67 out of 10 for happiness – the joint-highest score across Berkshire, with Windsor and Maidenhead.
The area scored a relatively chilled 2.94 out of 10 for anxiety.
And people in West Berkshire appear to be more than content with things in general, scoring 7.87 out of 10 for life satisfaction – the highest in Berkshire.
However, some residents felt the survey was somewhat inaccurate, with many commenting on social media their surprise at the news.
Commenting on the Newburytoday Facebook page, Glynn Swain wrote: “There must be a lot of unhappy people about other than West Berkshire then.”
Dan Smith commented: “I am NOT happy about this!”
Jon Davies said: “Try buying a house and tell me it’s a happy, stress-free place to live. London commuters are the happy ones, not those living and working locally.”
Beverley Holliday echoed many residents’ concerns, writing simply: “Traffic is horrendous.”
And Malcolm Ward added: “You can get to Heathrow faster than crossing Newbury, they’re all talking crazy!”
However, Newbury MP Richard Benyon said: “I think we are blessed in West Berkshire by having as near to full employment as it is possible to get, because we have got companies that want to base themselves in the Thames Valley.
“We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside, we have got good schools and good services and I think a combination of those factors give people a sense of well-being.”