Ed­i­tor’s com­ment

Dorset - - Front Page -

Dorset has no cities or mo­tor­ways. I don’t know whether it’s be­cause of this, but there is a great sense of com­mu­nity within the county.

This can man­i­fest in a myr­iad of ways - from car­ing in­di­vid­u­als en­sur­ing that oth­ers who may not have easy ac­cess to trans­port are helped with their shop­ping, right through to an or­gan­i­sa­tion such as Dorset Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion which can pro­vide prac­ti­cal sup­port with grants to help with heat­ing or ed­u­ca­tion.

All those lovely, and some­times re­mote, vil­lages and ham­lets need res­i­dents that care about where they live in or­der to sur­vive and thrive. I come across peo­ple like this when I at­tend the Vil­lage of the Year awards, where Dorset Mag­a­zine spon­sors Ham­let of the Year. Es­tab­lished over 30 years ago by Dorset Com­mu­nity Ac­tion - another won­der­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion help­ing ru­ral Dorset - I hear about com­mu­ni­ties that have cre­ated some­thing spe­cial.

These have in­cluded the cre­ation of a Mi­cro Mu­seum in an old phone box in Stour Provost, vil­lage pubs turned into com­mu­nity as­sets such as The Drovers Inn at Gus­sage All Saints and vil­lage shops which have be­come buzzing com­mu­nity hubs - like Ducks Farm Shop and Café at Porte­sham.

One par­tic­u­lar project at this year’s awards re­ally im­pressed me. It was in Oke­ford Fitz­paine and was spear­headed by Jeremy and Dilys Gart­side who had moved to the vil­lage only a few years ago. They were both keen cy­clists and came across a track, just un­der a mile long, known as Mill Lane that would link them to Shilling­stone in­clud­ing the lo­cal doc­tor’s surgery. It had fallen into dis­re­pair, and needed a huge amount of work so that it could be used by ev­ery­one. Named the Lit­tle Lane Project, the lo­cal com­mu­nity came to­gether and ap­plied for grants that could help fi­nance the project. A cou­ple of years down the line, with a lot of hard work, end­less form fill­ing and meet­ings, they have a track that is used by young and old in both Oke­ford Fitz­paine and Shilling­stone.

Some­times even the most will­ing of com­mu­nity spir­its can be stopped in their tracks. The failed 4am raid of a cash­point on Fleet Street in Beamin­ster, back in Au­gust, has had a mas­sive im­pact on the res­i­dents of this lovely vil­lage out­side Brid­port. The raiders used a stolen dig­ger to pull the cash­point from the wall of a listed build­ing. The build­ing par­tially col­lapsed and the gang fled. Beamin­ster now has no cash­point avail­able out of hours, plus the dis­rup­tion to the square has im­pacted on lo­cal busi­nesses.

Com­mu­nity spirit can make or break a vil­lage, with­out that pas­sion to sup­port lo­cal – be it the peo­ple, the busi­nesses or the fa­cil­i­ties - it may well strug­gle. Hav­ing a com­mu­nity that will go that ex­tra mile to sup­port it can make a world of dif­fer­ence.

‘Com­mu­nity spirit can make or break a vil­lage’

HE­LEN STILES,

Ed­i­tor, Dorset Mag­a­zine 07584311487, he­len.stiles@archant.co.ukYou can fol­low He­len on Twit­ter@dorset­mag

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