Testimonials from a selection of successful projects who have received LEADER grant funding through the Heart of Wessex LAG. These projects have now closed.
Wren’s Shop – East Knoyle Community Shop Association: Paul Egginton, Chairman of the shop’s committee said:
“The East Knoyle Community Shop Association successfully built Wren’s Shop in 2006 and this volunteer run store soon became the heart of the community providing an amenity for villagers and an outlet for local suppliers. However, its sustainability was threatened by severe space restrictions and inefficiencies and in the approach to our tenth anniversary we started to look at options for bringing it up to date. This required both a radical rehaul of the interior and the addition of storage and we could not hope to raise funds to do both, although obviously there were enormous cost and running benefits to doing the whole project at one time, as it would mean closing the store. We turned to the Heart of Wessex LEADER funding to enable us to complete the whole project at one time.
The Heart of Wessex was just starting up but from the first contact Sarah and Emma were invaluable, ensuring we suited the rigorous terms and then assisting us at every step of the way. We attended our first LAG meeting in March 2015; this was well-organised and communications were excellent. The meeting was conducted effectively, electing Chair and officers and watching the first presentations. Throughout the following year, Sarah and Emma kept us informed and were always available for advice so that we were able to make our own presentation the following March. During the next two months we were in constant contact finalising the final application and we would never have been able to put this together without Sarah and Emma alerting us to any weaknesses in our paperwork and ensuring we would meet the stringent requirements.
It is now impossible to imagine how we would have managed if we had not received the £24,000 from Heart of Wessex and been able to complete the project inside and out. Our energy use has been reduced despite the increased area, wastage has been decreased with the addition of the cold room and more efficient stockroom. The changes within the shop enable far more customers to circulate before it feels overcrowded ensuring more browsing of the displays of local produce and over the last year we have seen these sales increase. Without the grant and refit the management believes the long term future was in doubt due to operational pressures on volunteers and a dark and unwelcoming shopping experience for our clientele. Instead we have a wonderful welcoming shop that proves a focal point, particularly during this festive season.”
Nunton Farm: On behalf of Nunton Farm, John Martin said:
“The Leader grant received through the Heart of Wessex for the milk vending machine we set up in July 2017 has been invaluable in the success of the project. It enabled us to purchase the equipment required to supply fresh local milk to our community, whilst helping us to employ someone from a nearby village to pasteurise the milk before it is sold through the vending machine. The project has received fantastic reviews from the local community and even people from further afield. We thank the Heart of Wessex for their support throughout the process”.
Camel Hill Farm: Ben Turner from Camel Hill Farm commented:
“We received the LEADER grant for a new “No Till” seed drill. We are a small arable farm and are not used to buying new machinery, and so without a grant we would have been able to adopt this new technology for some years to come. The new drill has enabled us to undertake all our own planting this year. The technology is already improving our soil structure, and enabling us to get on the land when the conditions are right, rather than when the contractor is available. As I write the new crop is coming through, whilst the old stubble and fallen seed are still there from last harvest. This has left a much better food source and habitat for our film wildlife over the winter. The LEADER grant process is not easy, however the Heart of Wessex team acknowledged this and made every effort to help us through the application and make it as effective as possible. The time between initial enquiry and acceptance of the grant was remarkably quick compared with other grants we are used to in farming. The grant will make a difference to our farm. Thank you Sarah and Emma and the rest of the team at the Heart of Wessex.”