Sturminster’s “Charity for Sturminster” – SNEDSL

Sturminster Newton-8 of the Best, scenic walks around Sturminster and its rural history.

SEDSL – Who are they, what have the done so far?

2018 saw the start of Sturminster Newton Economic Development Society Limited (SNEDSL) as a charity dedicated to supporting the Town’s long-term financial sustainability.

To fund this endeavour members established a charity shop the “Community Chest” as a trading outlet aimed at creating funds that could be put to this purpose. In 2020 under the management of Cheryl Basten the charity opened a new shop the “Emporium” and remodelled the already successful Community Chest into the “Boutique”. The former selling goods, small furniture, antiques and bric-a-brac from the old Lloyds Bank building in the towns heritage retail centre (many thanks to Mr John Romans for his unstinting help), the latter now selling high end pre-loved clothing from their Market Square location.

COVID notwithstanding both shops were blessed with a band of volunteers the like of which you rarely find. They have turned both locations into destinations attracting regulars and visitors alike to a shopping experience that is rarely available. Together with other retail developments they have begun to breathe new life into the Town’s retail economy. The shops needless to say traded successfully.

So, what have they done with the money so far?

  • We have repaid our outstanding loans (over £5000 and thanks to those who lent us the money, without you it wouldn’t have been possible). We now stand financially independent.
  • We have over £12000 as a reserve and a contingency against future unseen shocks, not least the fear of further Covid related restrictions. The board decided that this cover was an essential buffer against adverse events and unforeseen occurrences and will seek to defend it to insulate us from future shocks.
  • We have continued to fund and operate the Town web site with valuable additions of “Who’s who in Sturminster”. The site receives on average 7-9000 visits a month and growing!
  • We have paid for the printing and distribution of the “Who’s Who” listing of consumer service providers.
  • We injected a small amount of capital into UNITY on the web in a forlorn effort to help that much loved Sturminster magazine to survive. It didnt1
  • Paid for the installation of local large photograph montages in two of the former banks windows to enhance the look and feel of the Town retail area. The pictures have received very positive feedback and we are sure they are helping make Sturminster a better place to shop.
  • Purchased small events insurance that allows other community groups to put on events safe in the knowledge that they are properly insured. This year we covered the literary festival, several markets and fairs and the regular vintage car shows.
  • Agreed to stand behind the financial viability of the Town’s 2019 Literary Festival eventually paying out over £500 to cover the costs of print marketing materials and the expenses of some of their speakers.
  • Developed our idea of the society as a hub organisation that facilitates and, in some cases, owns and pays for additional community and infrastructure support.
  • Enhanced the Town Council’s Grounds Team’s efforts to make out town look good with more plants and planters placed around the Town’s built environment. To do so SNEDSL financed, and SturBiz organised, the purchase of troughs which retailers and other businesses paid to have filled with summer and then winter flowers.    This is now a continuing process.     Feedback tells us this has had significant impact on the look and feel of the retail area.   All our investments are aimed at making the Town economically sustainable. There are reasons to be cheerful.
  • Worked with others to establish a new seating area at the far end of town near the White Hart. This seating has been extremely well received by Townspeople and visitors alike. Our role was to conjure up the idea, finance the purchase of some equipment (seats and umbrellas) and get the Council on board to bollard the area and provide rubbish bins etc.
  • We have earmarked £2,000 to go towards the project to enhance the Station Road entrance to the Trailway, once that moves forward. The aim is to make the entrance more attractive to tourists, with a railway theme, a noticeboard advertising the shops and  attractions of our town, and a picnic area which in turn will benefit our economy.
  • In an effort to make Christmas during the pandemic a little more cheerful SNEDSL has agreed to support the cost of Christmas trees set up by retailers being dressed with lights and put up though the town. Last year there were ten small trees but by offering a package SNEDSL has more than  quadrupled the numbers.
  • Two of our volunteers, Margaret-Ann and Ptoly Mortimer have volunteered to film the resulting Sturminster sparkle from a drone (with all the necessary permissions). The resulting short film, with help from Kacper of Parrot Creative, will be released on Christmas morning to show the children what Father Christmas saw when he flew over Stur.

Hopefully as we progress other projects will come under our umbrella.

Thank you to all those who work to support the Sturminster Newton Economic Development Society Limited project, both in the shop, by shopping with us and working for and with us doing  the other tasks needed to keep our project progressing.   Once we are clear of this pandemic, and we will be one day, SNEDSL is poised to progress supporting the economic wellbeing and growth  of our wonderful little town.