Sandford Heritage and Community Project

Volunteers worked with the local school children to learn about woodcarving Credit: Jim Wileman

The children’s bench end design has been carved and can now be seen in the church

Making a difference

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for heritage

  • Some important wooden carved columns, previously hidden by Victorian alterations, are now properly conserved and are on public display.
  • The Heritage Group produced two new books on farming heritage, and volunteers are doing more research into the bench ends, alongside an expert in tree-ring dating.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for people

  • More than 40 volunteers gained new skills in digital archiving, recording and interviewing techniques. Workshops on pew making, carving and photography, helped develop practical skills. Members of the Heritage Group shared their individual skills and knowledge, and other experts helped with training where needed.
  • Local people have learned more about the heritage of their village and the surrounding area. The school projects continue to be a  great success, and teachers work closely with the heritage group on local history in the classroom.
  • Evening talks on local history, held in the church four times a year, attract 60-70 people. The kitchen facilities, toilets and the heritage and community room were essential in allowing the church to cater for these activities.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for communities

  • The conversion of space into a community facility has helped to ensure the church continues to be a key community asset for the whole village. It is now a focal point for all, not only active church members.
  • The project cemented links between three partners in the area – the school, the church and Sandford Heritage Group.
  • Two more local villages have been inspired to set up their own heritage groups, getting support and advice from the Sandford volunteers.

Find out more about the difference we want your project to make.

Lessons learnt

Getting support at an early stage of developing the project from an organisation such as Involve (Voluntary Action Mid Devon) can give a group expert advice on project leadership, grant researching and applications.

Local people often have many skills, including research and web design, which can be crucial to the continued success of a project. Advertising for volunteers, for example in a parish magazine, can help bring such people in to work on the project.

It was essential to work with an architect who had a vision and understanding of how the new space would be used, and who also had a flexible approach to the project. This was especially important in a Grade I listed church.

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