Community raises £14,000 in 2 weeks

New Galloway celebrates
New Galloway celebrates

Excitement continues to mount for New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd (NGCE) as their “Save our Shop” campaign and community share offer reaches over £14,000 in just weeks.

The group aim to raise £20,000 contribution to funding by the end of April.

Coupled with the recent news the Big Lottery “Growing Community Assets” has awarded a grant of £800,000, the new shop and community hub becomes more of a reality in NGCE’s efforts to create a “sustainable village” for the future.

Set in the picturesque rural village of New Galloway in Dumfries and Galloway the only local shop and “heart-beat” of Scotland’s “smallest Royal Burgh”, was set to close due to the retirement of local owners, until a concerted and sterling effort by the local community enterprise team pulled out all the stops to create a community benefit society with plans to “save the shop” and develop a sustainable tourism business and employment in the village.

Mike Brown, Chair of New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd, said: “The award of the Big Lottery grant is a tremendous boost for the New Galloway community and a vote of confidence in the energy and imagination of everyone involved in devising the plan. What started out as an effort to save the last shop has turned into something much more adventurous which will create employment, generate income, attract tourists and enhance the cohesion and resilience of the community through the appointment of a community engagement officer. It has been very exciting to watch the plan develop as it absorbed numerous ideas and innovations arising from a succession of consultations with local people. Not only is this development needed by the village, it is wanted and clearly is being supported.”

The New Galloway community proposal also includes 5-year funding for a part-time Community Engagement Officer who will work with individuals, businesses and organisations to help local people access practical assistance and information and to develop projects benefiting the area.

A concert to mark the centenary of Scott Joplin, led by local musician and Ragtime enthusiast Jim McPhee, is being held on Saturday 22 April in the New Galloway Town Hall to add to community fund-raising efforts at a local level. The £800,000 award will fund the plan to purchase the last remaining general store and attached house and renovate them into a Community Shop and self-catering flats targeted at the outdoor tourist trade.

Community Shares Scotland programme officer Sandra Macaskill said: “We are excited to see how much interest the Community Share Offer has made at the mid-way point, with a hearty total to date of £14,000 already pledged. Building local engagement has been a real boost to their community regeneration ambition”, adds Sandra (Macaskill), “with the tourism element bringing a further business benefit to the village. The unique element of this village plan overall is the creation of the community engagement officer who will bring real support, assistance and encouragement as plans unfold.“

Andrew Frew has lived in New Galloway for over 30 years. Now in his 70s, he is delighted the shop has been saved. “And as I get older it will get more important” he says, aware that as mobility problems set in and driving licences are surrendered people rely even more on local resources. “There’s an important social role as well” he adds, “as a way of hearing how people are and checking on their welfare. Also, if the village had lost its shop, it would have become a much less attractive place for people to come and settle in.”

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair said that “I am delighted that New Galloway will benefit from these enhanced community assets, thanks to this contribution from the National Lottery. Since its launch ten years ago, our Growing Community Assets fund has invested £98 million in 181 projects across the country. This award to New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd is another great example of local people doing it for themselves and I look forward to following their progress as they pursue their community ownership ambitions.”

The award has been secured by New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd (NGCE), a Community Benefit Society owned by local people and supporters.