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Delighted Lincolnshire community group backed by Chestnut Homes

L-R: Steve Dean, Chairman of the Bardney Community Group, Mathew Sibley of Bardney Community Group, Steph Tilley (Behind) of Chestnut Homes, Kirsten Sibley (In Front) of Bardney Community Group, Gloria Carter of Bardney Community Group and Melanie Welburn of Bardney Community Group

A community group which has launched a huge effort to bring villagers together has thanked a local housebuilder for supporting them.

Steve Dean, 69, Chairman of Bardney Community Group, praised Chestnut Homes after the Lincolnshire-based company handed him a cheque for £250 to help fund the project in the historic village of Bardney.

The active, big-hearted pensioner and his dedicated volunteers have started a lunch club for villagers. The community group was set up after Steve personally masterminded a popular website called thelittleredvan.org. The idea of the lunch club came from locals after seeing the success of the website and realising that anything was possible.

Formally employed by British Telecom, Steve brought together like-minded villagers to set up the lunch club.

He said: “I could not have created this local facility without the help of the residents of Bardney, Bucknall and Stainfield. Support from the Bardney Group of churches, local councillors and donations from local businesses have given us a great start.

“Our Social Enterprise group has eight trustees who provide governance and we are currently forming a working group to manage the day to day operations. Our first social lunch in the village on October 25 was attended by 16 residents. We now have at least seven volunteers helping and will always appreciate more volunteers to join our team.

“Our aim is to sign up dozens of members of all ages as we host the lunch club on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.”

In a letter to Chestnut Homes’ managing director David Newton, Steve wrote: “We hope to attract in excess of 50 members in the near future and are actively seeking out anyone who may be living in isolation or have other reasons not to socialise very often.

“The feedback we are getting is very positive and we can now move forward with making this a fortnightly event.”

His community action brainchild has been backed by a £2,000 Lottery fund grant as well as financial support from Lincolnshire Community Voluntary Service which has helped Steve to buy vital cooking equipment.

But he told Mr Newton they were now very low on funds after taking out public liability insurance costing £217 for the year and asked Chestnut Homes if they would be willing to donate this amount to ensure the project was secure for 2019.

David Newton said: “We are delighted to donate this money to Steve. I am very impressed by the incredible work, effort and resourcefulness he has put into setting up Bardney Community Group.”

He added: “Being a Lincolnshire-based builder, we at Chestnut Homes are totally committed to doing the best we can for local communities throughout the county.

“We are only too pleased to back those like Steve who are dedicated to bringing people together. This is an excellent cause to give our full support to.”

Chestnut Homes is currently building new homes at six developments throughout Lincolnshire, with more information available at chestnuthomes.co.uk.