Members of Aldbourne Youth Council have received a lottery windfall of £30,000 to help refurbish their recently-purchased premises in the village centre – and hope the project brings them a third national award.
Aldbourne YC is a two-time winner of the prestigious national Philip Lawrence Award, initially for creating a BMX track for local youngsters and for turning part of the village’s former public toilets into an internet café for the community.
Adult trustee Andy Devey said the youth council members hope their latest project – for which they must raise at least £140,000 – would make them the first ever three-times winner of the prestigious award. It is presented each year by Frances Lawrence in memory of her headteacher husband, who was murdered in 1995 outside his school in London by a gang who had tried to attack one of his pupils.
The Wiltshire youth council members won their first Philip Lawrence award in 2006 for their BMX project and again in 2010 for transforming part of the village’s former public conveniences into an internet café where the young people continue to give computer training to older villagers.
Last year, with the help of local benefactor Brian Kingham, the youth council bought a building in the centre of the village including a shop which, said Mr Devey, it intends to turn into a charity shop.
The income would be shared between local organisations, as in the case of Hills Stores in Ramsbury which the village acquired and which has raised tens of thousands of pounds for local organisations.
Village SOS – the lottery fund that came up with the money two years ago for villagers in the Pewsey Vale to buy the lease on The Barge Inn to keep it open as a village pub – has given the youth council at Aldbourne £30,000 towards the refurbishment of the shop.
The youth council applied for the grant under the name of Village Junction because it wants the shop to both raise funds and also be a place where local people and organisations can meet, explained Mr Devey.
In a joint statement with AYC’s other adult trustee, Hazel Keen, Mr Devey said: “This will be a huge boost to our fundraising and will help with future grant applications.”
The youth council will need something like £140,000 to fully restore the dilapidated 18th-century building which stands at the junction of The Square with West Street and which has been semi-derelict for many years.
Mr Devey said: “We still need another £70,000 so that we can get that part of the building restored and get the shop open.”
Marlborough Area Board recently awarded a grant of £5,000 for the project and Mr Devey said AYC was about to apply for landfill tax credit funding and had applied to North Wessex Downs AONB for grant aid.
“Once we can get the shop open it should provide an income which will help pay for the rest of the building to be restored,” said Mr Devey, adding that eventually AYC wanted to move its CAN internet café into the building.