Winning project helps community start day with a smile

Bildeston Community Coffee Centre, Baptist Church.
(L-R) Paul and Sue Cousins, Jackie Bridge and Sa

Bildeston Community Coffee Centre, Baptist Church. (L-R) Paul and Sue Cousins, Jackie Bridge and Sam Thomas (Taylor Wimpey) - Credit: Archant

Today, the East Anglian Daily Times and leading house builder Taylor Wimpey announces Bildeston Community Coffee Centre as the winner of the £500 Community Chest Jackpot. CALLUM MACLEAN spoke to the organisers behind the coffee centre, as well as the runners-up – Elmswell Library and the ‘Hall for All’ in Huntingfield, Heveningham and Ubbeston – about their plans for the future.

All three projects nominated as finalists in with the chance to win the £500 have a strong community feel to them.

The winning project, the Bildeston Community Coffee Centre, will use the prize fund to put towards plans to extend the centre’s kitchen and buy new equipment.

Sue Cousins, who organises the coffee centre, in the village baptist church on Friday mornings, spoke of the importance the prize would mean.

Mrs Cousins added: “We need enough to be able to start and finish the extension and we don’t want to be without it.

“Another £500 would make a big difference, it’s another £500 we haven’t got to raise.”

The centre opens just after 9am for people dropping their children off at school, and stays open until around noon.

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Mrs Cousins, who has been running the morning since it started in May 2009, said: “It’s grown so much. Every week we’re getting more and more people.

“We need a bigger kitchen because at the moment we’re on top of each other.”

The centre offers breakfast in the form of breakfast rolls, as well as scones and cakes, and provides the only meeting place for people in the village. It has a cafe and a play area for youngsters to use.

Mrs Cousins also runs a lunch club on the first Friday of every month, and relies on the centre’s kitchen for both schemes.

She said: “We have got plans drawn up to extend the kitchen which will make all the difference.

“It’s becoming unsafe.

“What we need is more space and a lot of equipment is starting to wear.

“We wouldn’t be able to cope if we did more than 40 lunches.”

Once extended, the kitchen will have stainless steel worktops, and new equipment, and the £500 will pay for a new piece of equipment for the centre.

Caroline Carter, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey East Anglia, said: “We are delighted to announce Bildeston Community Coffee Centre as the winner of the Community Chest.

“A number of good causes were nominated, so many congratulations to our winners.

“We are pleased to recognise the fantastic work they do and hope that the Community Chest cash will help to support those efforts.”

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: “Groups like the three featured here are the absolute bedrock of our communities. They roll up their sleeves and make things happen. Congratulations to Bildeston Coffee Centre for winning, and also to our other brilliant finalists. In fact, well done to all those who entered - you do a great job.”

The ‘Hall for All’

The ‘Hall for All’ is aiming to create a community hub for three Suffolk villages of Huntingfield, Heveningham and Ubbeston to use.

Sue Lucas, chairman of the new village hall committee said: “The nearest form of anything is five miles away. This will get people together.”

The new hall bring services to the village, which residents currently have to travel to Halesworth for.

“Age UK would like to use it,” said Mrs Lucas.

“We have got a tremendous community spirit but nowhere to put it, apart from a former First World War Hall.”

The hall has seen better days, and was only meant to have an expected life of 20 to 30 years after the end of the First World War.

During the colder months, those using the hall usually wear coats and scarves to keep warm.

The new hut will have a kitchen, for parties for all occasions, as well as computers for people who don’t have access to one at home.

Elmswell Library’s 10,000 appeal

Emma Yarrow, manager of Elmswell Library, has been looking for funding go towards a £10,000 appeal to free up space in the building.

The appeal was launched by Elmswell Library Friends in 2014.

Mrs Yarrow said since the library opened around 13 years ago, it hadn’t seen much of an update.

She said: “It’s in desperate need of redecoration, it’s quite outdated.

“We want to completely refurbish the library and add moveable shelves.

“We have baby and toddler groups who have to squeeze in around the shelves. We want to make it colourful and inviting.”

“The refurbishment would give us as much space as possible, and replace furniture.”

She added the library was becoming more like a hub, and the redecoration would be able to open it to the community and say “come and use us.”

Mrs Yarrow said there had been a lot of fundraising towards the appeal, adding: “The generosity has been incredible.

“It’s a testament of what the library means to people these days.”