A VILLAGE is stepping up its bid to win lottery backing for its big green idea.
Last month, Allendale in Northumberland had its proposal shortlisted for Village SOS – a scheme to inspire a UK rural revival, run by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and the BBC.
Allendale has now been paired with a Village Champion – an experienced professional who, over the next few months, will help residents to develop their initial business proposals into viable plans.
Six of the best projects will be awarded up to £400,000 from the Big Lottery Fund in May and their respective Village Champions will move into the villages for a year to help the businesses get off the ground.
The process will be filmed for a new BBC One series, due to air in 2011.
Nottinghamshire businessman Chris Fitzpatrick will work with villagers in Allendale to help them develop their idea for the Sustainable Allendale Food and Energy (SAFE) project.
It aims to set up a market garden and renewable energy plant in a prime location close to the centre of the village.
Greenhouses growing fresh produce would be powered by a biomass boiler, solar panels and wind turbines and any surplus energy would be sold to two nearby schools, a health centre, library and village hall.
Local shops and pubs would buy the market garden’s fruit and veg for onward sale to villagers and visitors. Employment, training and volunteering opportunities offered onsite would lead to the development of other local enterprises such as biodiesel, shared transport schemes and community-led health and social care.
Chris’s role as chief executive of a renewable energy social enterprise was considered by the UK scheme organisers to be a good match for Allendale’s project.
His background includes growing a multinational adhesives business worth £3.5m from his garage at home. He has also recently created a sustainable cooperative called Shop in a Box.
He said: “Allendale residents have developed an understanding of the needs of their village by conducting a conversation about how it will develop over the next 30 years. Out of this they have created a visionary concept to be self sufficient in food and fuel as far as is practicable.
“I am very proud that in the face of stiff competition they selected me as their village champion and hope my experience in renewable energy, business and rural issues will help them to achieve their goals.
“Allendale is a wonderful example of a community moving forward to face a difficult future with confidence and I will be very pleased to be part of that process. I particularly look forward to moving to the village and being part of an active community to deliver very real and sustainable change.”
James Turner, Big Lottery Fund North East regional head, said: “This is a really exciting stage in the Village SOS process. This champion will add a great deal to the village’s business ideas, helping them to strengthen and develop them into robust business proposals.”