Full steam ahead for community shop

Cotswold Journal: An artist's impression of how the village shop might look. An artist's impression of how the village shop might look.

A CAMPAIGN to raise £200,000 to build a new community shop in Bledington is well on track after the community rallied round and raised a quarter of the money.

Since planning permission was granted by Cotswold District Council in January last year for the change of use of part of an orchard to allow a community shop and café to be built on land off Church Lane, £50,000 has been raised towards the project.

Fundraisers including frog racing, a champagne dinner, teas at Chastleton House and jams and preserves which were sold at last year's Big Feastival have all contributed to the total along with £19,000 in donations and shares.

The village, near Kingham, has been without a shop for seven years so residents are keen to have a new one in its place.

Support for the new shop has grown over the last year and the committee now has 200 members who have joined the Bledington Community Shop Ltd.

Benjamin Ball, committee member, said the fundraising was going really well.

"We're getting more and more people involved which is really nice," he said. "Things like baking cakes, we're regularly cake selling which makes significant money.

"With the success of our local fundraising we now have the possibility of match funding from some local charities.

"We've just been awarded charity status which is great because it means fundraising is much more efficient. And we're about to exercise the option to buy the land so it will be in community ownership.

"We hope to start building in 2015."

The new shop and café would be built on land at Middle Orchard and will include a wide range of services including locally sourced produce and a post office.

The next fundraiser is an auction of promises on Saturday, May 17 at 7.30pm in Bledington School Hall.

Mr Ball said he hoped that lots including a tour of the House of Lords, a tour of the Lotus F1 factory in Enstone and a holiday home in Menorca would attract people from far and wide.

"There's big prizes like that but also little prizes so there's something for everyone," he added.

Tickets are £10 and include fizz and Canapés. To buy in advance, email shop@bledington.com or call 01608 658 464.

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