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What are you doing this weekend?

This weekend the weather forecast is looking good – sun, cloud and 20 degrees celsius on Sunday.

This is perfect weather for a garden festival and, good news, it’s the day of our Small Gardens Festival!

For the first time it’s being held in July and we’re hoping this makes a difference to the flowers on display.

It will take place from 10.30am to 6pm this Sunday 2nd July.

Tickets are available for £5 and can be bought on the day from Smithfield Car Park, Rockspring Community Centre, Sandford Road, and Renaissance in Tower Street.

This is about ‘small’ and what can be done in a small space. Residents around Sandpits and the Rockspring area in Ludlow will open their gardens to the public.

We are looking for people who enjoy gardens and gardening to come along and see what’s been done for our festival. We want people from all parts of the Ludlow to come and share experiences, time and ideas together.

We hope gardens will be wearing their summer colours and people will head to our festival after the Ludlow Fringe Festival has finished.

Last year 12 gardens opened to the public and well over 300 people visited. It was a delight with different and interesting gardens. As usual there will also be stalls and a prize for the best garden.

This year there will also be a display of local artists’ work at Rockspring Community Centre and local sculptors’ work displayed in some of the gardens.

There will be a variety of stalls appearing along the route and a party atmosphere with seating, a jazz band, Pimms and ice cream.

We will also launch a range of local-garden produce under the label Shropshire Hills Produce. Anyone can join in selling produce they grow in this beautiful area.

And of course, all funds raised will go towards the work and future of The Furniture Scheme.

Helen moves on after seven years with The Furniture Scheme

A long serving volunteer and a well known book expert in south Shropshire has put her last book on the shelf and left the county.

Helen Muir, an expert in rare books, has volunteered at Renaissance in Tower Street, Ludlow, for more than seven years.

Well known in the town, she has been responsible for raising around £75,000 for The Furniture Scheme, the charity which runs the shop, through the sale of books alone.
Bosses believe thousands more has been raised through other work she has assisted with.

Ms Muir said: “I am delighted to have been able to put my knowledge to good use by working in Renaissance.

“The people of South Shropshire played a vital role in creating the bookshop, without their donations it could not have happened.
“I created a climate which encouraged the donation of a very wide variety of books which gradually improved to help us have a book department head and shoulders above the others.

“It has been a great pleasure for me to be able to sort through the many books we have had donated and find some extremely rare ones over the years.
“From the £900 Rambles by Yorkshire Rivers to an entire library of Gree and Latin classics, there have been some very exciting times in the shop.

“It is now time for a change of scene for me and I hope the team from The Furniture Scheme can find someone else to help out and keep the popular shop going.”

Ms Muir, whose father was an antiquarian book seller and taught her all she knows, began volunteering at Renaissance after travelling past the shop a few times and seeing it as a challenge. So she went in and offered her help.

James Cooper, Operations Manager at The Furniture Scheme, said: “Helen has been responsible for building up the reputation of our bookshop over many years.
“People have visited us from Hay-On-Wye, world renowned for books and bookshops, and said this is the best bookshop outside of that town.

“We have been very lucky to have her here and are sad to see her go – but we are eager to build on the hard work she has done and will continue with this bookshop.

“We are looking for a new book expert to join our team of volunteers.”

Helen has moved to the Welsh coast.

Their name is …

When people think of The Furniture Scheme they think they do furniture. Well, they do! But they also do so much more than that.

● Sell furniture to the public (with a 25% discount for those in receipt of benefits)
● Restore furniture in their workshop
● Run workshops for those with mental health challenges to learn carpentry skills
● Sell restored furniture
● Run two community centres
● Run two book shops
● Sell clothes
● Sell bric a brac
● Run weekly lunches
● Host an annual bonfire night
● Host children’s parties and summer holiday clubs
● Organise a community choir
● And they also manage two business centres.

As I said, more than just furniture!

The Furniture Scheme was launched more than 20 years ago as a way to ensure some of the most excluded members of the community could benefit from recycled household items.
Their aim is to relieve poverty and eliminate discrimination as well as protecting the environment by reducing, recycling and reusing.

Where are they based?

Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow.
They have a warehouse in Weeping Cross Lane, Ludlow, where anyone can buy furniture.
They also have a carpentry workshop in Ludlow Mascall Centre, Friars Walk, where furniture is upcycled and workshops take place.
Their Renaissance shop, including famous bookshop, is in Tower Street, Ludlow.
Craven Arms:
They can be found at the community centre in Newington Way as well as at their charity bookshop at Unit 2 Drovers House, The Auction Yard, Craven Arms.

What do they do?

While they spend a lot of time donating, upscaling and selling furniture, they also offer a wide variety of activities through their community centres.
Workshops include computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden.
They also organise a community choir as well as family fun days, yoga, tai chi, football and even a Knit and Natter session.

How can you get involved?

If any of their events sound appealing to you, just pop into one of their centres and their staff will be happy to help you. You can also visit their website at www.furniturescheme.co.uk or call 01584 874922 for more information about the charity.

They are always looking for volunteers to help in a wide variety of ways from their charity bookshop to electrical testing. Please contact Di Hyde on 01584 877751 or email diane@furniturescheme.co.uk for more information.

So, you see, they may be called The Furniture Scheme, but don’t let the name fool you – their scheme is far more wide reaching than that.

Feel free to contact them to find out more!

Thank you for helping us move

Hi Simon,
We just wanted to say that we are so extremely grateful for your assistance with our move from Craven Arms on Monday 22nd May 2017.
Nothing was too much trouble and both yours and Kevin’s support and kindness was really refreshing to have.
As I have Acute Anxiety and Panic Disorder and Rheumatoid Arthritis it was very much needed.
Also my teenage daughter has Anxiety Issues as well. This was extremely stressful for her too, but when you both worked so smoothly between you and organised our move she was a lot calmer.
We are still sorting things out and as you helpfully placed the boxes and bags and beds and wardrobe in our rooms, which made things a lot easier to sort. In fact our beds were so old and my wardrobe was broken so you took them to the tip and gave us fresh beds and mattresses and a wardrobe, but not forgetting a small sofa and comfy arm chair which my girl loves as it is in her room since she has claimed it now.
Therefore we could start off afresh and be rested and able to cope with the weeks ahead of sorting stuff. The pets have settled in too and have scoped the back garden and surroundings too.
We could not have been able to do this without the Furniture Scheme, so a massive thanks for helping us with everything. And we still have various items to get from your scheme so that’s good too. As I am on benefits I will be able to pay a cheaper cost so that is good too and much more affordable for us.
I have had to move in the past many times, and for once I did not have to lift and carry at all, as it was all taken care of thanks to you and Kevin.
So I think it was one of the least stressful moves we have made and we won’t be moving for a while hopefully as I feel we could settle here, and this was made possible as we had immense support from yourself and Kevin at the Furniture Scheme so thank goodness for that!
Thank you so much to you and your team!

Craig completes marathon challenge

A Shropshire man confined to a wheelchair has successfully completed five marathons in five days – raising more than £3,000 for a local charity in the process.

Craig Nicholson, 40, from Craven Arms, completed the 137 miles between Eastbourne and Poole with two friends, also in wheelchairs, and one on a bike in aid of CasCA – Community Arts Sports Craven Arms – an arm of the charity The Furniture Scheme.

He chose his local charity because it gives youngsters in the town the opportunity to play sports, receive coaching and give them the chance to take part in free activities.

“It went very well and the people along the route were absolutely marvellous. They came out with offers of free food and drink and we even had a lorry driver pay for one of our meals,” he said.

“The weather was very hot and one of our lads got a touch of sunstroke early on but he rallied and we all completed the challenge five days and five marathons later on Sandbanks Beach, Poole.

“Paul Gascoigne was there at the beach and we all had our photograph taken with him. So that was special.

“My aim was to raise about £2,500. All the money isn’t in yet but it looks like we will be over the £3,000 mark. I’m pleased with that because CasCA is something very close to my heart.”

Craig was joined on the gruelling challenge by Scott Smith and Glenn Leversage, also in wheelchairs, and Paul Rogers who completed the journey on a bicycle. Craig’s wife Cheryl was also an integral part of the support team.

“It proved a little hairy early on as we tackled the hilly section between Eastbourne and Brighton. One of the lads was coming down a hill in his chair very quickly – about 50km an hour – and was trying to slow himself down. He burnt his hands and got a few blisters. But he was ok,” added Craig.

“I’ve done a lot of things for charity but never five marathons in five days. But it was sound. A great experience and I would certainly think about doing it again. It’s a funny thing but I really missed it when we stopped doing it.”

Jean Jarvis MBE, CEO of The Furniture Scheme, which manages CasCA, said: “This was a truly amazing achievement by Craig, Scott and Glen, who I know have some great supporters. We’ve followed their progressed and are absolutely thrilled that Craig has chosen to raise funds for CasCA, we can’t thank him enough!.”

Appeal after vandals smashed shop windows

A Shropshire charity has issued an appeal for help after vandals smashed their shop windows, causing damage estimated at £2,000.

Renaissance, in Tower Street, Ludlow, is part of The Furniture Scheme charity and was targeted along with other businesses in the area during the vandalism spree. The damage to Renaissance means the whole shop frontage will have to be replaced.

Renaissance retail manager Julie Nash said the attack happened on the night of Wednesday, May 24 – the night of the Europa League final between Ajax and Manchester United.

“The game was being shown in the pubs and afterwards loads of people much the worse for drink hit the streets and that was when the damage was done,” she said.

“A number of shops were targeted. Our windows were smashed but the door wasn’t touched so it wasn’t an attempted break-in – it was just a case of deliberate vandalism. They also badly damaged our wrought iron gates.

“One of the shops captured one of the attackers on their premises on CCTV and that led to that person coming forward and admitting the vandalism. We think it was probably the same person or part of that gang that caused our damage as well. The police are looking into it.

“There was all sorts of trouble that night. There were some tourists staying next door and the noise, shouting and windows smashing was apparently quite terrifying.

“The upshot of all this is it is going to cost us about £2,000 to repair the damage and as a charity it is something we could well do without. The income we generate from

Renaissance helps us to provide our much needed services, so this is a major blow. The whole shop frontage will have to be replaced.

“There are lots of people who support what we do in south Shropshire, helping those in need – which is what The Furniture Scheme was set up to do.

“We would be very interested to hear from anyone who may have information about who was responsible for causing the damage. We would also like to hear from anyone who may be able to help us by either making a donation towards the repair.”
Julie said there had been a number of problems with vandalism and other anti-social behaviour in Ludlow – culminating in a number of break-ins last year.

“It’s not as bad as it has been but the problem we have is there is no police presence here at night and very little in the daytime,” she added.

“Locals know that and we went through a spell in the town of people openly carrying ladders and other items to break into places. I am sure a police presence has to be a deterrent.”

Renaissance renovates and sells donated furniture items. It also sells clothes, shoes, bags and belts.

If anyone can offer any help with repairing the damage to the shop, they are asked to telephone Julie on (01584) 877751, or call into Renaissance in Tower Street. Anyone with information on who caused the damage should call police on 101.

Life after a broken arm

After breaking my arm at Christmas and being told that it would be a long process to get it right, I decided that the time had come for me to retire.

For the first six weeks and with my arm in a sling, I didn’t really feel like doing anything, but as I began to feel better and could do more, the boredom started to take hold. What to do?

Well, The Rockspring Centre is literally a two minute walk from my house so I decided to look on their website to see if there were any courses that would suit me and that’s when I saw that they were asking for volunteers. In for a penny, in for pound, I rang and spoke to Di Hyde and arranged to meet up with her. As a result I now do three afternoons a week and am really enjoying it. A bit of reception and a bit of accounts or anything they want me to do really.

I was made to feel welcome from the beginning and have met a lovely bunch of people. Thanks Rockspring for helping me to get motivated and to start enjoying my retirement.

I would recommend it to anyone who has a bit too much time on their hands and would like to help this lovely well run scheme.

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