Community spirit in Grindleton - small place, big ideas

Masked balls, belly dancing and a strong community spirit are making a dream come true in the village of Grindleton. Jill Burdett reports

What Grindleton lacks in size, it more than makes up for in spirit and determination.

For instance, when the villagers heard the players from Grindleton FC were desperate to replace their crumbling changing rooms, they launched a fundraising campaign involving everything from belly dancing to a masked ball.

In spite of the fact the Ribble Valley community has a tiny population of around 700 they managed to raise a brilliant �48,000.

Now, after just 12 months they’re close to their target with the help of �50,000 from Sport England, part of the Olympic Legacy, and �70,000 from the Rural Development Programme for England. A further �40,00 has come from the Lancashire Environment Fund for a renewable energy system. The total stands at around �340,000 with �146,000 secured in grants, �100,000 from the Bowland Trust plus that impressive �48,000 raised locally.

Their success is an inspiring story of what can be achieved when a community comes together. It began, as many things do, with a meeting in the local pub.

Football club chairman Ray Powell met the Recreation Ground Charity, which owns the pitch, to plead their case. Retired GP Dr Anne Huson was persuaded to lead the project. She says: ‘The charity accepted they needed new facilities but wondered if a village meeting room could be added as well. And that was it - the beginning of what has become the Pavilion Project!’

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That was in April 2010 and by the time of the village sports day in June they had the first outline plans, drawn up by another villager, architect Jeff Marshall.

The ambition is to build a medium sized meeting hall that as the hub for village events as well as changing rooms that can be used by all. An initial boost came from the Bowland Charitable Trust, founded by villagers Tony and Ruth Cann.

They generously donated �100,000 in matched funding. Events followed, including a Hafla belly dancing evening, a 20-mile walk, Christmas cards and cook books and a masked ball and proms weekend. As well as e-mailing information the Pavilion has its own Facebook page which is regularly updated and is on the village’s website –

Despite the generosity of local people it was clear grants would be needed to hit the estimated �350,000 target. Anne said: ‘I rang Ribble Valley Council and spoke to David Ingham, who is very involved in helping rural communities. As a result our bid secured �10,000 from the Village Amenities Fund.’

More money came from the Craven Trust which donated �1,000, the Garfield Weston Foundation which gave �10,000 and �5,000 from The Big Give.

A mound, much loved by generations of kids, is being relocated to the back of the playing field to make way.

The common purpose of the project has helped bring people together, forging new friendships and connections and a pride that, despite its size, this is a thriving village looking to the future. But above all has been the desire of people to get involved and make a difference. Anne said:

‘When times get tougher people realise the importance of community and there is a real feeling of wanting to contribute, to try and make things better. We hope this will.’

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