The Ancient Heart of Hardwick

Hardwick is a village about 8 miles west of Cambridge. The church is located on the southern outskirts of the village in what until now has been a relatively undeveloped area.

Construction is now underway on a new development which will see a significant increase in the population of this part of the village. The school, community buildings, shops and other facilities are located in the northern part of the village.

A cabin was placed on a woodland area behind the church in 1995 as a temporary community facility. Despite the efforts of the volunteer group to maintain it, the condition of
the cabin is poor. It is not well insulated and is heated by electric radiators which are not safe or efficient. The toilet area, which leads straight off the kitchen, is very cramped and has no hot water. The floor is rotting, and the structure is now leaning out of true so that there is sometimes a problem with closing doors. The lighting is unsubtle, but adequate.

The church and volunteer group have a vision to provide a community hub in a woodland garden. As it will be the only fully accessible community building in Hardwick, it will be
available for use by any group, family or individual in the village for activities, clubs, meetings, social gatherings and parties for at least 80% of the week. The fully accessible toilets and other hospitality facilities will support the continued and more frequent use of the neighbouring historic Church building as a community venue, thereby doubling available community space provided by this project.

We want to re-imagine our buildings and land as community and spiritual spaces for the village, restoring its ancient heart as a place where we experience what it means to belong.

Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS first encountered the volunteer group when two members attended a funding applications workshop held in March 2015.

The workshop helped them consider what they needed to undertake before any funding applications could be made, including carrying out a consultation with their community. A one to one meeting and resources sent by email helped them shape this and the consultation took place later that year. In the summer of 2016 a funding search gave them some ideas of opportunities for funding applications. They had by this time joined Cambridge CVS as a member and had made good use of the Support Cambridgeshire funding bulletins. They had hoped to receive section 106 money from the development of housing in the village but were disappointed. However, they had achieved a massive outcome for a relatively small Church community and had £95,000 pledged towards the overall project cost of about £300,000.

Further support was given in the summer of 2016 and then in May 2018. Cambridge CVS supported an application to the Garfield Weston Anniversary Fund. At this time Cambridge CVS also worked with the group to enable them to write a business plan. As part of this Cambridge CVS were able to help develop a strong vision for how the building would become a hub for the community, taking full advantage of its woodland setting. The strap-line of ‘Re-imagining the heart of the community’ grew out of this session: The Group started to see how the new building could be re-imagined for the 21st Century.

In October 2018 Cambridge CVS were able to review the business plan and help the group to fine tune their applications. The group is awaiting confirmation of the outcome from these bids and
continues to raise funds locally.

From the start of their journey, this Group of Volunteers have become a strong and capable unit. They have developed a strong vision for how the new building will be the heart of village life.

To serve the community by providing and promoting activities that contribute to building positive relationships and understanding between people of different faiths,
ages, ethnic origin and gender, working together to improve the quality of life in the village.

The working group has made 3 good applications to funders, developed a business plan and raised over £180,000 through their own fundraising. A considerable achievement in a very constrained market=place where funders expect more and competition is growing.


St Mary’s Church in Hardwick began fund-raising for a new community hall back in 2015. One of our group attended a training course led and hosted by Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS which was very helpful in terms of enabling us to get a grip on the steps that needed to be taken, and how to go about it. They have always been available for support and advice, and this has made a daunting task seem more manageable – they are a great encourager!

In the early years we talked with them about how to undertake community consultation and get ‘grant ready’ with regard to policies in place. They set us up with a project plan proforma and met with us to review our progress in completing it and suggest the next steps. They also made available the business plans from other similar projects to help us see the kind of document we might produce. 

Cambridge CVS  have always been professional, helpful and knowledgeable. If they say they will find out about something, they do. They take time and trouble on our behalf (reading some quite
lengthy documents and coming prepared with notes and suggestions that are particular to our situation). They have provided an excellent service, for which we are very grateful – as
will all the Hardwick residents be, once we have the hall.

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