A VILLAGE has finally raised most of the money it needs to build a community centre set to tackle loneliness and bring residents closer together after fundraising began nearly 15 years ago.

The Longcot Village Trust (LVT) now has 80 per cent of the sum needed to start work on the hub in St Mary’s Church.

The internal reconstruction work will take six months at an estimated cost of £190,000 and work is now set to begin in June.

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Longcot, near Faringdon, is home to approximately 650 residents but, apart from the local pub, The King & Queen, it has community space for only about 30 adults in its Methodist Chapel.

There is no regular bus service, shop, post office or village hall, and residents need a car to get to community facilities in neighbouring villages.

This means that elderly residents and families without a car, or with mobility problems, can find themselves totally stranded, or cut-off from local life, which can cause significant loneliness.

Longcot Village Trusts Keith Reid with Revd Canon Paul Richardson outside St Marys Church

Longcot Village Trust's Keith Reid with Rev'd Canon Paul Richardson outside St Mary's Church

Keith Reid, secretary of the village trust, said: “The community started this project some 14 years ago and, in 2017, in St Mary’s 800th year, we gained approval for the joint-use of our church from both the Oxford Diocese and local residents.

“We are very thankful to all those who have helped us raise enough money for us to ask our builders, ABS Construction, to start the project in June.”

He revealed that hub will provide the opportunity to run activities such as mother and toddler groups, lunches for the isolated elderly, possibly a visiting post office, yoga and pilates classes.

It will also provide the church with a new source of income.

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The Rev’d Canon Paul Richardson, the recently appointed Vicar of Ashbury and Longcot, said: “It is truly wonderful to think that from this December our church will not only be available for religious services but will also provide suitable accommodation for community events such as concerts, celebrations, exhibitions and other community activities such as group meetings and classes.”

However, the trust is still short of much-needed £40,000, so Mr Reid urged village businesses and community-spirited residents to donate what they can to help make the project happen.

He added: “Like all charities, we have not been able to hold fundraising events for nearly a year, so our funding is very tight, but donations can be made via our new fundraising page."

To donate to St Mary's Church community hub visit www.gofundme.com/f/st-marys-community-hub