THE competition to find an official flag for Herefordshire has produced a bumper entry with 675 designs being submitted before the closing date.

"That's a fantastic response," said Philip Tibbetts, communities officer for the Flag Institute, the national body that maintains Britain's registry of flags. "I suspect it's a record for any such local competition anywhere in the country."

"We are amazed and thrilled by this," said Dave Marshall, chairman of the Herefordshire Flag Committee.

"We were hoping for a good response but never imagined it would be on this scale. It's a great tribute to the enthusiasm that the county arouses from its own residents and from outsiders who know and love it.

"It's also a tribute to our organisers from ignite cic, Jan and Leoni, who worked tremendously hard spreading the word and putting on workshops," Marshall added.

Entries came from schools and colleges across the county and from individuals from Checkley to Chile.

The designs are now being anonymised and sifted to go before a panel of local judges who will meet next month with Tibbetts acting as their technical adviser. They will prepare a short list of possibles.

Herefordshire people will then make the final decision. The ballot will be restricted to those living within the county but everyone aged five and up will be allowed a say.

The plan is for the winning flag to be revealed at a ceremony in Hereford in the autumn.

Herefordshire is one of only three of England's 39 historic counties not to have its own registered flag.