Bringing Stur back to life

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You wouldn’t believe the work that goes into making the heart of the Blackmore Vale a vibrant town, says Pauline Batstone.

The start of a new year is a good time to review what Sturminster Newton’s own Community Benefit Society has achieved in the past three years and what it hopes to achieve in the next year. Raising thousands of pounds from people’s unwanted goods to plough back into the town, is a pretty good start!

The Emporium has revived a former bank building into a community shop – with everything you need for your home

Take the Emporium: it brings one old, and unloved, former bank building back to life in the centre of town as a community shop – with everything you need for your home, with: furniture, furnishings, kitchenware, crockery and cutlery, and, for your relaxation, jigsaws, books, CDs, DVDs and even exercise gear.

We’ve also got two fridges and a freezer packed with free food which helps prevent food waste. Inside is also a very upmarket clothes shop for Dapper Chaps! And our other shop, The Boutique, sells quality pre-loved ladies clothes for all occasions.

Of course, a major benefit of second- hand shopping is that you have the opportunity to save a lot of money. But buying second-hand instead of new is also one of the best things you can do to reduce your environmental impact – it’s the greenest way to shop.

The money raised by the community shops goes towards:

  • Running the shops and creating two shopping destinations in the town
  • Installing a defibrillator on the front of The Emporium
  • Developing, managing and paying for running the town web site – sturminster-newton.org.uk
  • Taking on the “Who’s who” listing, print and distribution and online presence
  • Improvements in the Town’s built environment including;
  • Supporting improvements to the entrance to town from the Trailway by paying for new level crossing style gates
  • Commissioning a steam train and station mural to be painted in the Station Road car park (this work is underway)
  • Paying for the large pictures on the redundant bank’s windows.
  • Initiating more flowers in the town centre in winter as well as summer by paying for the first flower troughs – now supported by SturBiz, the Town Council and the traders
  • Paying for the erection of 50 small Christmas trees and their battery lighting around the centre of town in 2020 and 21, the trees being purchased by the traders and organised by SturBiz.
  • Paying for five parasols to go on the tables in the Market Cross seating area
  • Supporting and part-paying for the planting of wild daffodils at the Trailway entrance
  • Paying annually for insurance cover for small events being run in the town including: the monthly Classic Car Event; Producer’s Markets and our popular Literary Festival.
  • Insuring Bib The Bike, the trishaw owned by the Blackmore Vale Practice and used to get otherwise housebound people out into the countryside
  • Underwriting the first Literary Festival costs including payment towards guest speakers’ fees.
  • Providing Yewstock work experience for four students
  • Providing office space for the SturBiz Economic Development Coordinator who organises town events, in particular the Christmas events
The Boutique in Sturminster Newton has an ever-rotating stock of quality pre-loved ladies clothes

Other less obvious benefits of the charity include;

  • Setting up two re-use, recycle, re-purpose charity shops with minimal environmental footprint.
  • Creating a community-focused, volunteer-led organisation with around 40 full and part time volunteers
  • Creating three new jobs (one full-time and two part-time) in the town
  • Increasing footfall in the town centre to the significant advantage of the town’s retailers by creating two enjoyable browsing venues and supporting retail friendly events
Sturminster’s Community Benefit Society has funded new level crossing style gates to enhance the entrance to the Trailway from the town

In the coming year the renamed Sturminster Newton Community Benefit Society will sustain its projects as above and also work to:

  • Continue to renovate the two upstairs floors of the former Lloyds Bank Building to be used to provide meeting and training rooms plus “hot desking” space for local charities and those endeavouring to develop their own careers
  • Establish a “destination” indoor market on the ground floor of the former NatWest Bank offering space to traders showcasing goods principally produced in the Blackmore Vale
  • Work closely with the Town Council to identify future projects to make Stur. “a good place to live work and play”

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