MARDEN welcomed Philip Tibbets, communities vexillologist from the Flag Institute to support and mentor judging to select a short list from entries to the Marden Flag Competition.

Philip is involved not just with Marden's Flag but also in organizing and mentoring a competition for a flag for three Outer Hebrides islands and later in June will advise on the shortlist selection of the Herefordshire County Flag competition.

The evening before judging Philip was briefed on the local area, including Sutton Walls hillfort, King Offa's palace, the St Ethelbert story, even those well-known tales of the Mermaid and the Marden Bell.

Never having before been told about a freshwater mermaid, this was a first for him as well as for Marden in its quest for a flag.

Philip met the panel of local judges the following morning on May 24. Leoni Linton from Ignite attended the meeting as an observer. Leoni, organizer of the Herefordshire County Flag Competition came to meet Philip and the Marden judges and to see how these things are done.

Each of the flag designs submitted had been anonymised in advance and several hours later, after detailed scrutiny and re-examination of each one, Philip Tibbets was able to photograph the judges' selected shortlist of six flag designs.

Each of the shortlisted designs will be rendered to a common standard of artwork, heraldry and best practice; they will then be displayed for public voting in Marden on June 23 when everyone can see exactly what the flags will look like.

The design with the highest number of subsequent votes will be submitted to the Flag Institute for registration as Marden's official, community flag.

After selecting the short list of six, Philip and Leoni withdrew to allow the judges to re-examine all the designs in their age related classes: Under 16, Over 16 and Over 60 in order to select Judges' Awards' winners and runners up for each age-group.

Names of the class winners and runners up will be revealed for the first time at the Marden Church and Community Fete on June 23, together with prize details.

All the designs entered to the competition will be on display with pride of place given to the shortlisted designs for public voting.

Why not visit the fete and vote? Anyone of any age attending the fete is eligible to vote for what will become Marden's official flag.

That flag will be raised for the first time at a ceremony in the autumn.

By that time Marden will have become the first parish in Herefordshire to be able to fly the local, regional and national flags of Marden, Herefordshire, Mercia, England and United Kingdom.