The final three

Welcome to the final list of qualifiers for the Baxi Commercial Division Community Challenge. The judging panel received a rush of last minute entries that made the process of choosing the final shortlisted qualifier all the more difficult. After due consideration, three applicants stood out above the rest and the decision was made to include all of them in our final shortlist, making a total of five. Here are details of the final three.

Scrappies

Scrappies in Church Stretton, Shropshire, is situated in a recycling warehouse and is a charity which encourages local communities and businesses to donate their scrap. A dedicated team of volunteers sorts it for display and sale to members or ‘swaps’ it with other recycling centres. Through workshops and training sessions, Scrappies encourages pre-school groups, Brownies, Guides, Scouts and Youth Clubs to find creative ways of using their scrap. Customers can even purchase art and craft items at the craft shop, aptly titled Scraptastic!

Scrappies began life some twenty years ago, when Irene Briscoe thought it would be a good idea if the people of Shropshire could be re-educated in the ways of thrift. After setting up in the back of a launderette, Irene encouraged people to bring and buy their scrap and, as word spread, local enthusiasm grew along with the need for more space.

Over the years, Scrappies moved to a closed down shop, a barn and a small industrial unit before finally moving to its current premises, which was purchased with the help of lottery funding. However, as volunteer Jackie Brett explained: “The building is now in a sorry state of repair, complete with its very own ‘in-house waterfall’, holes in the roof and an absence of heating in the main warehouse that causes the pipes to freeze over in winter. We have recently sold the building and are now renting it back from the new owners who are replacing the roof. For heating, we currently use plug-in fires in the workshop and office and we also have a little heater which provides just enough hot water for tea, coffee and pot noodles.”

When asked what difference this competition would make to the charity, Jackie said: “Winning this competition would enable us to redirect funds so that we can renovate our premises to offer a warmer and more hygienic environment for fundraising and environmental awareness days. It would be great to have better facilities when running workshops for children, as washing up can be difficult when dealing with paint and glue. The volunteers, who are used to ‘roughing it’ by coming to work dressed in thermals, will also benefit which will hopefully lead to more people becoming aware and involved. The dream is to be in a position to have an Open Day with a celebrity sponsor to acknowledge the help given, to raise awareness and to inspire others to follow suit.”

Guiders Association, Smoke Alley

The Scout Hut in Highley, Bridgnorth in Shropshire, is currently used by the Girl Guides and Brownies for weekly meetings, camping, barbeque events in the summer and Remembrance Parade. At one time there was an active Scout Group but, as the premises slowly deteriorated, the Scout Group folded. Unfortunately, numbers for the Guides and Brownies have also reduced as parents are reluctant to let their children attend due to the poor facilities at the premises.

Set in a beautiful location, the Scout Hut offers great potential to provide young community members with constructive, social experiences. However, the building is very run down and is currently only heated by an LP gas mobile heater. There is also no hot water supply apart from an electric kettle.

Councillor Mary Nicholls, who submitted the entry, told us: “The village of Highley was historically a mining community until the last mine was closed in 1969 and there has been no replacement for the lost employment. Consequently, 50% of the residents are on low incomes and cannot afford to send their children to expensive or out-of-village groups, the nearest of which is seven miles away. Despite this, there is a lovely community spirit within the village and crime levels are low in comparison to many places in Shropshire and nationally.”

Scouts, Guides and Brownies have used the Smoke Alley Scout Hut facility for over 50 years. There has been fundraising going on within the village towards refurbishment and the group have recently taken preplanning application advice regarding refurbishment. Mary Nicholls explained: “A new boiler would mean that these premises can be used to their full potential throughout the year, instead of children and adults needing to wear outdoor clothes in the winter months.

“Hot water would enable the installation of showers which would allow camping experiences for the children during the summer, as well as kitchen/catering facilities, which at the moment is not possible. These additions would also help to retain the Scout Hut for current and future generations, providing the children of the village with worthwhile and constructive social experiences that prepare them for adulthood, whilst safeguarding an aspect of Highley’s heritage very much linked to its historical mining community.”

Hooley Village Hall

The village hall is one of only two community areas available in the village of Hooley, Surrey, besides the village club which is located adjacent to the hall. Over the years, the village residents have funded both of these enterprises. Originally built as an Air Force assembly point for the World War II Fighter Station at Kenley, Surrey, the building was purchased by the residents of Hooley in 1949 and re-erected on its present site. The Hall is used for many village events including the pensioners Christmas lunch, May Queen Ceremony and children’s parties. Like most village halls, the building relies on volunteers to both run and manage it and, due to its age, a high level of maintenance is required. 

Brian Richardson, who put forward the submission on behalf of Hooley Village Hall, explains: “We have relied to a great extent on materials donated by local businesses over the years, such as Harris & Bailey Ltd who provided many of the original materials for the central heating system. However, the existing boiler has all but given up and needs constant attention. It is also highly inefficient and we desperately want to replace it with a modern, high efficiency model so we can reduce our fuel bills and carbon emissions. While our local businesses try to donate as many materials as possible, sometimes outside help is needed!”

 

Scrappies, Hooley Village Hall and Smoke Alley Scout Hut join The Silvester Horne Institute in Church Stretton and the Buxted Scout Group based in East Sussex to form our final line up of shortlisted entries.

The winner will be announced in next month’s issue!

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