Village projects to get the Royal seal of approval

THE Etchingham Community Interest Company (CIC) will host a Royal Visit on Tuesday.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester will be welcomed to the county by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Peter Field at Etchingham Station.

The visit has been arranged to allow The Duke of Gloucester to get a better understanding of the village projects undertaken by the CIC in the last five years. The Duke will visit the Bistro@theStation - a community owned business based in a Grade II listed building which was once the station master’s house at Etchingham Station.

The Bistro opened in May 2010 as the result of a major renovation project managed by the CIC with funding from a number of sources. The directors of the CIC and Etchingham Parish Council contributed to the project and funding was also raised from the community, with villagers sponsoring specific items in the Bistro including a period fireplace.

The second location on the visit will be the Etchingham Shop & Deli which opened in May 2012. There has been a shop in Etchingham for more than 150 years but the previous shop was forced to close in 2011.

The CIC set about raising the funding and renovating the existing shop building. Funding was secured via the Etchingham Parish Council, WARR Partnership, Rother District Council, the directors of the CIC and other local people. The new shop and deli was re-opened by Mary Varrall, chair of the parish council.

Colin Phillips, chair of Etchingham CIC, said: “CICs have been in existence for around eight years, however, there are still relatively few in comparison to the 180,000+ charities registered in the UK. The Etchingham CIC forms a bridge between the parish council, the people of the village and the need for commercially run social enterprises. We are delighted to welcome The Duke of Gloucester and Mr Peter Field, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex to our village of only 280 homes. We have achieved a great deal in the last five years, helping to bring the community together and provide vital services with the help of our sponsors and many hours of time given freely by a dedicated group of people. This is a great opportunity to spread the word as to how other communities could do the same.”