The Sherston Old School Community Interest Company (SOSCIC) was formed in 2010 for the purpose of renovating and converting the Old School (which is Grade II listed) so as to provide increased employment opportunities and additional services for the community and help preserve the character of the High Street. This was in response to the decision by the Parish Council, with the full support of the village, to try and purchase the Old School premises when they fell vacant. This is an entirely voluntary run organisation with over 280 members – all of whom are residents of the village. It is managed by six Directors – who, following the successful completion of the restoration and conversion work in 2013, have responsibility for the ongoing management of the project. With the exception of a loan from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), all of the funding for this project (which in total has cost in excess of £900,000) was obtained via a series of large and small donations and grants received from different sources (see below) – including a significant amount of money via personal donation from individual villagers and local fund-raising events.
The Eleanor Barton Trust
Sherston Parish Council
Malmesbury Carnival Committee
The Sam Thompson Fund
The Prince’s Countryside Fund
Sherston Boules and Carnival Committee
J Seymour Williams
The Old School was purchased by the Parish Council on 1st April 2011 at which time a long lease was granted to SOSCIC. Work started on the renovation project in July 2011 and the first phase, which allowed the village Post Office and Stores to relocate from their cramped premises elsewhere on the High Street into far more suitable and commodious accommodation, was completed in November 2011. The second phase, comprising the restoration of the rest of the building so that it was suitable for use by a variety of small business uses, was completed in May 2012. All five of the additional business units have been let.
Midcounties Co-operative – post office and general store
Balcony House Cellars – wine shop
Pulse Business Software – business software solutions
Compass Graphic Design – design for web and print. Short run printing
James Pyle & Co - estate agency
Shear Class Salon – hairdresser and beauty salon
The benefit to the village is readily apparent. The new (larger) Post Office and Stores are heavily used, are open for much longer on a daily basis and provide a much wider range of services and goods than was previously possible. The additional business units provide a range of additional and enhanced services to the village and of course additional employment opportunities. It is estimated that over 30 persons are now employed within the property. This should help make the village far more sustainable. This is an ongoing Project. SOSCIC will continue as an organisation to manage and maintain the premises over the long term. Rental income from the premises should be more than sufficient to cover the PWLB loan repayments. Any additional funds will be recycled into other village projects – thus providing a long term source of funds to the village and an opportunity to provide further community benefits.
This Project would not have been possible without the fantastic support of the village – whether through practical assistance (e.g. fund-raising; site clearance; gardening etc), administrative work (e.g. project management; planning; accountancy; problem-solving etc.), or just by supporting the many and varied fund-raising schemes that have taken place over the last few years. This Project is believed to be one of the largest “community interest” projects of its kind in the UK. The success of the Project to date has been entirely due to the initiative, vision and perseverance of the community over an extended timescale. SOSCIC was awarded the Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire 2012 “Community Leadership Award” in recognition of the work undertaken by its Members in successfully bringing this building back to life. The award winner had “to demonstrate community leadership that inspires local people to get involved in playing an active part in their community”.
Sherston Old School Community Interest Company (SOSCIC) is a Community Interest Company (CIC) registered with the Registrar of Companies (no 7138461). Each of its members has guaranteed to pay £1 each in the event of the company being wound up. Under its rules, the CIC is non profit making and cannot distribute its assets except to the community. The Parish Council, as owners of the premises, decided to adopt a CIC as its lessee because a CIC allows everyone in the community to become directly involved in the project. The CIC, as a separate body, can then recruit a team of people with appropriate skills, who may not be members of the Parish Council itself.
How can I apply for membership of SOSCIC?
SOSCIC Membership Application Form
Memorandum and Articles of Association View PDF