IF you’ve taken a stroll along the beach at Mersea you will have no doubt caught a glimpse of the island’s latest star.

Tiny beach hut Bertie might be one of the oldest and smallest of his kind but he has been named the best in the business by Love Your Hut.

The Hut of the Year award has seen the hut with “bags of personality” take the top prize.

Owner Jayne Eyres is passionate about the wooden shelters and admits it was an honour for her hut to win.

Judges picked Bertie for his “brilliant light decor, colour scheme and stunning pictures.”

Originally used as changing rooms for Victorian beachgoers, beach huts have grown in popularity, size and price since the late 19th century.

Basildon Standard:

Jayne, 64, from Churchfields in Mersea, said: “For little Bertie to win this is a great privilege and honour.

“He was the first hut I bought about nine years ago back when you could buy beach huts for a reasonable price.

“Nobody wanted to buy him and he is now unrecognisable to the pictures you see today. “

Jayne worked tirelessly to restore Bertie, which is 60 years old, to his former glory.

She said: “He is one of the oldest and smallest huts on the beach.”

A year later she teamed up with Jane Ashmore who had beach hut Betty and their business The Little Beach Hut Company was born.

The pair rent out three award-winning huts - Bertie, Kitty and Peggy - and, thanks to their flair for interior design, they are incredibly popular, not just with daytrippers but with stylists and photographers alike.

Basildon Standard:

Jayne said: “That was eight years ago. We started off with two huts and built it up to six and now we are back down to three. It has been so successful it is unbelievable.

“All the huts are unique and stocked up with local produce and handmade things and bits from charity shops.

“We made all the soft furnishings - nothing is shop bought.

“It brings our beach huts alive and you think of them as real people. They have real characters.”

Bertie has seen it all in the time he has been open to the public from 100th birthdays to proposals and newborn babies.

None of the huts have mod cons with then all stripped back to simplicity.

Basildon Standard:

Bertie has an oven and hob but no running water or electricity.

For Jayne this is all part of the charm and she admits she gets a thrill out of people’s reactions when they step inside. She said: It is one of the most rewarding things I have done.

“I’ve been all over the world and done all sorts but to see the joy it can bring to families is quite humbling.

“You see people transform within an hour or so of going back to basics. “

Before the business took off Jayne worked in hospitality, including cooking on private yachts in the Caribbean, film locations and as a private chef to the actress Sigourney Weaver.

She now devotes her life to the Little Beach Hut Company.

Basildon Standard:

While Bertie is not adverse to publicity having featured on magazines and TV, it is the first time he has won an accolade.

Jayne said: “The judges said it was so vibrant and they couldn’t believe what you could get into such a small space.

“It is the first award Bertie has won.

“He has been on the front cover of magazines before and

featured on cooking programmes.”

Bertie will get a plaque which will be put up outside the hut.

“We are so proud of Mersea, so proud of what we have to offer and so proud of the Little Beach Hut Company,” she said.

“To win was totally out of the blue. I never thought he would win.”

Love Your Hut is a firm which brings the beach hut community together and names its top picks in the annual competition.