By Andy Datson
Eight years ago, a local group from Lower Bemerton, called Bemerton Life, decided it wanted to raise money for a renovation of St John’s church. Initially, the members were told it would cost £250,000, but the figure slowly rose and eventually the bill totaled £700,000.
But they were not put off. Through a mixture of tireless fundraising and grants, the target was raised, and the work to renovate the church began. When just £40,000 was needed to reach the goal, a community appeal asked for donations, and with such a surge in support, more than £70,000 was raised as a result.
Sabine Dawson, a resident of Quidhampton, has been a keen supporter of the new community centre since it was opened last summer. After volunteering for a year she is now managing the ‘Bemerton Live’ community events on Friday mornings.
Sessions run between 10am and midday and are open to everyone in the community, involving activities such as seated Zumba, gentle yoga, dance, crafts and interesting talks.
“I think it’s really important for older members of the community to stay active. That’s why I believe our exercise sessions are so valuable. The ladies really enjoy themselves and it’s great to see,” she said.
Sabine’s plan for the future is to organise further activity sessions for all ages. Bemerton C of E school uses the building for some activities, including music, for which a special room was built as part of the renovation.
A film club once a month uses a state of the art projector and screen installed in the hall as part of the push to make St John’s place an exciting and enjoyable place to visit.
“The team at St John’s Place are very friendly and welcoming. We want to invite everyone to go along to any sessions, and we hope the community will help us expand our groups and make St John’s Place, the place to be,” Sabine added.
For further information on Bemerton Life and St John’s place, visit www.stjohnsplace.uk or contact Sabine Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.