Avon Dassett Soapbox Derby shortlisted for national award

The winner of the juniors category went toMegan Taplin, from AvonDassett, with theBDS Bullet.
The winner of the juniors category went toMegan Taplin, from AvonDassett, with theBDS Bullet.

The Avon Dassett Community Benefit Society Limited (which owns the Yew Tree pub) has been named a finalist for a national community business award.

Businesses including two farms, a woodland, a community hub and a number of pubs and shops are all up for the 2019 Rural Community Business Awards.

The awards aim to celebrate and raise awareness of the unique contributions community businesses make to creating resilient, thriving and inclusive rural communities.

The awards are arranged by national charity the Plunkett Foundation – which helps rural communities to tackle the issues they face, through promoting and supporting community business.

The Avon Dassett Community Benefit Society was shortlisted for the Community Story of the Year Award. This award recognises stories that capture how community businesses often go the extra mile when it comes to supporting individuals and community life.

Darrell Muffitt, the chair of the society, said: "We are a community benefit society. The society was formed by the village pub. The village pub failed a number of times and it's really the only asset in the village. We got money from the Plunkett Foundation through grants and raised money to buy the pub."

Some people from the Walking Group outside the Yew Tree pub in Avon Dassett

Some people from the Walking Group outside the Yew Tree pub in Avon Dassett

The society organises a walking group and a bridge club all with the Yew Tree pub serving as the central focal point for the society.

The society submitted the Avon Dassett Soapbox Derby as their 'story of the year.'

Mr Muffitt added: "I chose to put the soapbox derby in because it brings a couple of thousand people into the village and it entertains people.

"It's a great day out, and it puts the village on the map. It alerts people to the presence of the pub. We were delighted to find that we were shortlisted for the award."

The Soapbox Derby was revived in 2018 and attracts scores of people and drivers braving the challenging downhill course.

As well as providing family entertainment the Soapbox Derby raises money for local charities. The Soapbox Derby team are all volunteers from the local community.

Sarah Richardson, a member of the organising group for the soapbox derby, said, ‘Our whole team are thrilled with the news that we have been named as finalists for this prestigious national award. The Soapbox Derby brings thousands of people to Avon Dassett and it is a unique and much-loved event.’

The 2019 Avon Dassett Soap Box Derby took place on June 22, and raised more than £1,400 for charity.

The race raised £777.32 for Zoe’s Baby Place Hospice in Coventry, £500 for Fenny Compton Explorers, and £200 for Fenny Compton Church Roof Fund. All costs were covered by entry fees, sponsorship and grants with all donations from the public going directly to the charities and local groups.

The winner of the juniors category went to Megan Taplin, from Avon Dassett, with the BDS Bullet.

The community’s work is now being recognised by national charity the Plunkett Foundation – an organisation which supports rural communities across the UK to tackle the issues they face through community business.

The Avon Dassett Soapbox Derby is one of three finalists in the ‘Community Story of the Year’ award which recognises how community businesses provide extra support and services to local people.

Two other businesses were also shortlisted for the Community Story of the Year Award, which include The New Inn in the village of Norton Lindsey near Warwick and the Broadhempston Community Shop and Post Office in Devon.

Twenty-one community-owned businesses from across the UK are finalists for the national awards to recognise some of the most inspiring enterprises of their kind.

Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation James Alcock, said: “Each and every one of the finalists are a great example of people working together to make life in their own community better. Community businesses in rural areas can be a lifeline to the people they serve. The issues of isolation and loss of amenities are well known and these awards show that community businesses - of many different kinds - do so much as they tackle these issues.

“Community businesses are breathing new life into rural communities across the UK and it is an enormous pleasure for the Plunkett Foundation to be able to celebrate some of the outstanding individual stories with these awards.”

Community businesses are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community. A diverse range of businesses entered the 2019 awards including farms, pubs, cafés, shops and woodlands.

The Plunkett Foundation is marking its centenary year. Since 2013 the charity has been recognising community businesses with their annual awards. This year the awards feature seven categories - all of which celebrate the achievements of groups across the country who have come together in community organisations and found the answer to the challenges they face through community businesses.

The awards are being presented in partnership with Power to Change - the independent trust that supports community businesses in England - and is sponsored by Hastoe Housing Association.

Vidhya Alakeson, Power To Change Chief Executive, said: “It is a real honour to be involved in these awards and to see the huge variety of community businesses transforming the country. All of the finalists for these awards are extremely impressive and truly deserve this accolade.”

George Parkinson, Operations Director at Hastoe Housing Association, said: “As England’s leading provider of affordable rural homes, we know there is much more to creating communities than just building homes. Community businesses often provide the only opportunity for people living in rural areas to come together. In providing work, volunteering opportunities and much needed services, they create the conditions for communities to thrive.

“These Awards play a vital role in recognising many of the great projects, businesses and people who continue to make a positive difference in their community.”

The awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday 27 November at Burlington House in London.

Winners will take away a cheque for £250.