Voice of the Churches
FROM THE VICAR – Rev’d Philippa Sargent It’s been a rum old few months! Who would have imagined at the start
Sturminster Newton welcomes and includes everyone. It thrives on the diversity of its residents and their involvement in local organisations, groups and charities.
The history of the town has helped to shape today’s robust community. The first fair – permitted by royal charter – was held in Sturminster in 1219. In 1730 the town was decimated by fire but with the help of wealthy local wool merchants it was rebuilt. The railway arrived in 1863 and Sturminster grew in prosperity with the dairy farmers now able to supply milk to both London and Bournemouth. There was also a flourishing livestock market.
What might have been a devastating blow for Sturminster – the closure of its market in 1997 – infact left a legacy of a town more united then ever. Through consultation and participation, a magnificent new complex was built on the old market site. Opened in 2007, it included a new medical centre, the fabulous arts centre The Exchange, town council offices and a base for the great community organisation, SturQuest.
The next generation of community champions have doggedly tackled new issues such as the closure of the leisure centre in 2011 which was reopened within a week, thanks to local volunteers, to become a profitable and valued operation. More recently, there has been the creation of a temporary community garden on a derelict central area.
The communication vehicle which drives Sturminster Newton is the award winning free Unity magazine – run by an editorial team most of whom are volunteers. The first issue was produced in 2002 and it is delivered by over 40 volunteers to every household in the town.