Lottery fund helping to buck the rural decline

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AS VOLUNTEERS who run the Twyford village shop prepare to move into a new, purpose built store, Big Lottery bosses are urging rural communities to reach out for financial help.

This month the Big Lottery launched the Village SOS Scheme, designed to offer grants of up to £50,000 for start up community business ventures that breath new life to their areas. The new fund follows the announcement that The Twyford Village Store Association has been offered £27,542 for its gastronomic enterprise which will include a cafe and shop selling local produce prepared on the premises.

Charles Massey, member of the management committee, said: “We are completely amazed. We have been in a bit of a whirlwind having had an up and down time for two to three years.

“Because we have been able to have a large development of a building rather than simply a little corner shop, we have had this potential to capture something quite imaginative going on in Twyford day in, day out, for events around food.

“I can guarantee that this project will go off with an absolute bang. We are just trying to keep a lid on it.”

The SOS scheme aims to inspire a rural revival across the UK and support rural communities which may be struggling with issues such as isolation, ageing populations, and the closure of local amenities.

Fiona Dempsie, BIG’s head of the South East region, said: “I would urge people to explore this unique opportunity to get funding and support to start up a community run enterprise, which will revive their local area and help buck the trend of rural decline.”

To find out more about the SOS scheme and the application process visit www.villagesos.org.uk.