A competition celebrating the UK’s iconic and much-loved coastline beach huts has been launched.

Ryan’s Insurance in collaboration with Millie’s Beach Huts, is calling on the UK’s 20,000-plus beach hut owners to come together and compete to become the prestigious winners of the first ever ‘Ryan’s Beach Hut of the Year 2020’ winner – with beach hut uses rather than simply aesthetics playing a key role in the judging.

Vicky Gunn, owner of Millie’s Beach Huts, and judge for the competition, said: “There have been other beach hut competitions over the years but this one, celebrating use, rather than just aesthetics, brings a new and very welcome dimension – and diversion – in a very difficult year for so many people.”

A common fixture on UK coastlines, beach huts have a long history, evolving from simple functional bathing boxes introduced to preserve Victorian modesty, to now – in some cases - manifesting into cosy and even luxury coastline retreats.

Earlier this year, a 12ft x 10ft wooden beach hut in Dorset sold for a record breaking £330,000 – more than the average cost of a five- bedroom home in Hull.

Over the course of the Coronavirus lockdown, owners were unable to visit and enjoy their much-loved havens.

But now, in most seaside resorts in the UK, they’re back in action and being appreciated more than ever – as families opt for staycations rather than going abroad, falling back in love with the country’s stunning countryside and coastlines.

The competition runs until September 30.

It will celebrate best beach hut uses, however small or grand they might be, exploring beach hut owners’ stories – from restoration projects and storm damage come-backs through to bringing family together, creating a sanctuary for recovering from illness or escaping life’s daily stresses, and even raising money for charity or realising a life-long dream.

Entry is free, with owners of beach huts from anywhere in the UK encouraged to complete a 200-word summary explaining why their beach hut is best, as well as up to four supporting pictures.

Winners will be announced on October 19, with a first prize of £300 plus one year’s free insurance and a luxury hamper, as well as a winner’s plaque. Runners up will also be celebrated, with second prize of £200 plus plaque and a third prize of £100 plus plaque. Visit www.ryans.co.uk/news-and-events