Monday, 9 November 2015

St.Andrews on Amen Corner

Here's a short 10 minute radio programme about St.Andrews

First few days time lapse!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Yes! Yes! Yes!!

Did I forget to say - WE MADE IT!!

In the last few weeks of July and August some big grants came in and along with everyone's amazing generosity - it means that work can begin!
I'm sorry for not letting people know earlier, but it was a bit of a whirlwind and then we were all off on holiday!
Now its back for the hard work of getting the building transformed.
We sign contracts and leases this week (a 99 year lease from the Diocese to the PCC for the Chancel and Bemerton Community for the Nave) and then the builders move in on Sept 13th.
We're hoping for a finish by Christmas, but the school can hang on a little way into the new year - this is going to be worth waiting for.
We'll be uploading pictures onto the website so don't forget to check out the news there - click here

Monday, 6 July 2015

From red light to amber..

THE FINAL 40 - the thrilling follow-up

“THANK YOU EVERYONE!”  That’s the message from those leading the project to save Bemerton St John’s church - and turn it into a thriving community hub.  The launch of their Final 40 campaign saw the people of Bemerton and Salisbury rally in a remarkable way:  Rev Simon Woodley says “the community response has been fantastic and, at times, quite moving.  People have been so generous, and many have given in memory of loved ones who were connected to St. John’s church.”
Thanks to this tremendous last push, the project has raised more than £32,000 of the £40k so desperately needed.  Phase 1 of the renovations could start soon – but only if the City Council agrees a crucial grant next week. 
If this grant doesn’t come in, the project could stall at the last second!  Years of hard work and fundraising from local people will be lost – and a beautiful church boarded up forever. 
If the project doesn’t go ahead, we will endeavour to give back all the money that has been so generously donated so far.
Anyone who can help is urged to donate.  “We are putting name plaques on chairs for donors,” says Rev Woodley, “and if we go ahead we’ll be collecting in the pledges in the next few weeks.” The Group need every penny as they start on raising £200k for Phases 2 and 3, which include the toilets and kitchen!  
“But the good news is we hope to be starting soon, and the community and school will have this building back again, in even better shape than before!”
With the days ticking down to our deadline, your help could make all the difference.  If you would like to donate, you can do so online, at our fundraising page -

Alternatively, please make a cheque payable to “Bemerton Community Ltd”, and send to The Treasurer, 83 Lower Rd, Salisbury SP2 9NH.  We are a registered charity.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


I am about to launch a crowdfunding project and need your support now. It is critical that we get off to a good start as this momentum will encourage others to pledge - so please take a moment to look at my project and pledge whatever you can - there are some great rewards on offer!)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Final 40

Visit for more info!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Nail Biting Finish!

Thanks to all who came to the public meetings - about 65 on Tues and Weds and much less in the playground - but I always knew parents picking up kids would have other things on their mind.
I thought it would be a bit down-beat, delivering the message that "this may not happen". But you can never predict the great Britsih Public. There is no way people wanted to give up now and came up with lots of good ideas for finding some more money. Including, but not exclusively:

THE FINAL 40.  Hearts in our mouths, were appealing for 40 local heroes and heroines to save the day – by donating £1,000.  Could one of them be you?  Your kindness and generosity could transform our hopes – and enter you into an elite club with exciting privileges.  You’d secure a prestigious place in the heart of our hub – and enjoy an annual dinner to boot!
(this is giving beyond whatever was pledged last year)

Secondly, we are appealing to any local, big-hearted business:  Could you sponsor us £500 or more?  Do you know a business that might? You’d win the public gratitude of our community – and earn your caring company a plaque on the wall of the thriving centre you’ve helped to build. 

Part of the optimism and new momentum and drive for the project has been what's happened to the numbers - we were at the £110k shortfall mark for quite a while and we've suddenly dropped to just £50 or £60k to go. This has been from extra grants and more trimming of the budget and a continual trickle of donations.

We are hoping that there will be still be something out there when we start to collect in the pledges in June.

Just a word about God and faith. Its my experience that God likes to play a trust exercise with his people. So just as you cannot know if the person will catch you until you actually fall, so God does not give us all the money or resources we need until the last minute. Its his way of keeping us close to him, and it makes life much more exciting!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Keeping everyone informed

Public Meetings!!

Well, typically, when I emailed 260 people to invite them to our public meetings I got the date wrong! But was that just a cunning plan which meant I had to send another mail with the right dates? Who knows, but here's the real thing:

Next week - Tues 9th June - 7:30pm
and            - Weds 10th June - 1:00pm

Both in St.Johns church. Free! Open to the public.

There has been so much to-ing and fro-ing of deadlines and costs that we though it best if we try and just tell you exactly where we are at, and give you the opportunity to ask questions until you are satisfied. We will tell you what may happen if the project goes ahead, and what may happen if it doesn't. Hopefully most of the Trustees will be present, and we can answer all your questions.

See you there!

Friday, 8 May 2015

So nearly there ....

The response to the publicity has been great  - 
             Someone emailed to suggest we contacted wedding couples
             2 anonymous donations of £10,000
             A lady from Hereford sent us a donation
            The Romano’s in Quidhampton have offered to donate 4 weeks of newspaper delivery
             to new subscribers to the project
            Peartree Serviced Apartments in Mill Road making a charitable donation to us
             Collection boxes are out!

You can still sponsor Ben Thornton, (a parent and one of the trustees  for his epic 68 mile trek around the Isle of Wight here.

Meanwhile the After-school-club (proper name still to be decided!)  is making its applications to Ofsted and others in readiness for opening in the Autumn. Alongside the school they are our first definite regular booking for the renewed St.Johns Place.

And so we we are now perilously close to the final decision about St.Johns Place. The Trustees will have to decide by the end of May, and yet there is still a big hole in the funding. 
We expect to be having a public meeting to let everyone know what the situation is, and as soon as we have a date for that we will let you know.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Its all about the press..

I've had a post-Easter break, which was lovely, thanks, so I've done nothing of note worth reporting about SJP. However others have been busy. Nigel continues with Phase 2 of a big lottery bid - we're talking in the region of £66k. Katherine is putting out collection boxes again - which is a great way of raising awareness. And Tasha has been pestering the press! The sad fact is that when the project goes well, the papers don't want to know, but when its "bad news" or "jeopardy" then they have an angle to go for. Well we're pretty "jeopardy" right now, so they are getting interested again.
So far we've managed to get in Valley News (hurray) and even Salisbury Life -  p7 - not a full-page spread but a good 1/3! And the Journal are getting ready to to run a story too. Lets pray / fingers crossed (we like to be inclusive!) that somewhere someone finds the missing money for us, before its too late!

Friday, 3 April 2015

St John’s has its "Rocky" moment

 In the  classic 80s film "Rocky",  the boxer has a moment when he realises its all to play for and all to lose, and that's when he starts training in earnest. Well, we've hit that moment with St John’s! 
In the last month or so we've realised that we haven't got enough money to start building, and yet the school needs the building in September, so we have to start soon, or not at all. To add to the drama, the tenders for the building work came in much higher than any of us anticipated, even the professional quantity surveyors. But it’s not over yet.
What are we doing?
Firstly, our architect Paul Stevens  is working hard with the builder to reduce costs and  they have already saved over £100,000!

Secondly, Nigel Haynes has managed to get our Lottery Bid through to stage 2.
But even that still leaves us with a £100,000 gap
-          Tom Clay, our treasurer, is having discussions with the Diocesan Board of Education to see if they can give more money, given that without this building, Bemerton St.John school will have a real headache in September.
-          Anne Trevett is working with our Councillors to  go back to Wiltshire County Council to see how it is possible that we are not eligible for some of their money for local projects. 
-          And  we're going to go to the press in a few weeks time with a make or break story, to try and pressure these large institutions into donating more.
The local community have generously fund raised, given or pledged well over £70,000 over the last 5 years, but we still need more community help. We are going to be calling in pledges in the next few weeks, and if you can give more than you said originally that would be wonderful. 
You might like to sponsor one of our Trustees, Ben Thornton, as he runs round the Isle of Wight - then follow this link . 
If you're still interested in buying a pew (9ft or 12ft) then let Hilary Bird know here
If you want to join a group to do fundraising, or to put on activities when it is built, or to help in 
others ways - then please get in touch.
Between now and May is when we will either win this, or lose. After that, the building quotes will expire, the school will find other places, and the committee will have no option but to wind up the company and hand back all the money. 
Don't let that happen. 
We're so close. 
We can do it!

Rector of Bemerton, Chair of Bemerton Community Ltd

Monday, 9 March 2015

Getting ready to run SJP

Do you like the snappy title - SJP - its stands for St.John's Place and I hope it will catch on as it much quicker to type! So what I'm aware of is that as well as working on the capital funding to get the building converted and the all the contacts and tenders that go with that to get it ready for open day in September 2015... we also need to get things ready to run in the building then. We can't simply wait till its all ready and then set about finding groups and users and setting up a management committee and all that. So I find myself riding a second train on parallel tracks at the same time! Ouch!
Actually its quite exciting as people come forward to say they want to use the centre. There is of course exercise classes, and the school, but there is also an after-school club that will run, and a group of older people (forgive my poor vocabulary, I'm not meaning to label people.... better stop digging now!) who are looking at a range of activities that they would like to see. We also have commissioned an artist to do some inter-generational community development work, and there is even a youth worker who is "checking out the scene" or some similar young people's speak for seeing if there's potential for a youth cafe or activity (definitely not just a lounge around space - we are not raising £400,000 in a grade 2 listed building just for some sofas and a wide screen TV!). And yes, we're still chasing the last £100,000. Any one got any wealthy friends?

Monday, 23 February 2015

iPad raffle results

Raffle Results!

Thank you so much to all who braved the freezer-like conditions of the church on Valentines Day and made a memorable raffle draw. There were lots of prizes - from cuddly toys and chocolate, to brandy and a game! But the main prize was the iPad. We made £1,112.86 from the raffle, with £92.86 of that coming from the drinks and cakes! Thanks to Councillor John Walsh for pulling the tickets.
In terms of world records it soon became clear that no-one was going to come near to keeping 3 balloons aloft for over 5 minutes. Archie managed to keep 2 balls going for 53 seconds, but Ethan and Harry were far behind on just 15 seconds each! John-Paul kept 1 balloon in the air for over 6 minutes - but that really was quite easy! Well done to Darcy, Amelia and Daisy for taking part too!
The best part of the day was that with a dozen children, their parents, and a scattering of older folk it really was a foretaste of the kind of community that SJP could create in just a few months time.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

New Year round up

Sorry its been so long since I last wrote - I blame Christmas, and then January, and now I've run out of people to pass the buck to, so I guess I better write it!

Events -
Fantastic Christmas Concert as ever  - 250 people jammed into the church, raising £1500, but also a whole of lot of joy! What will it be like next year, with heating and chairs!!

Coming up on Saturday February 14th - the iPad Raffle and World Record Breaking attempts! Please join us from 11am, raffle draw at 12 noon. If you'd like a ticket and a good chance to win a prize then contact Ben Thornton who would be very happy to sell you 1 or 5 or more!

Building  -
Drawings are being finalised, and next month we will be inviting companies to tender for the work. We need to start in April in order to be ready by September!

Legal things -
The Diocese is drawing up leases for Bemerton Community Group and the PCC to negotiate with and sign, and then the school will have a separate licence with Bem Com.

Fundraising -
We're 3/4's of the way there! Amazing! £300,000 is a fantastic sum. If you know of anyone with the last £100,000 to spare, please let us know. Its painful to get so close and still be short. We will be calling on those of you made pledges of money in the next few months too, so expect a letter.

Answers to Prayer -
We've been having prayer nights for SJP (St.John's Place) on the 4th Tuesday at 7:30pm in St.Andrews, and you're very welcome to join us. Since we prayed we've got planning permission, new helpers, someone to do PR - it looks like prayer really does work (but I would say that, I'm a vicar!).