Getting new projects off the ground can be a daunting task, but community groups in Melksham can now call on the expertise of a newly- appointed trouble-shooter.

Former civil servant Phil McMullen has been appointed as Wiltshire’s first community project support officer, and will spend his time helping groups which need his organisational skills.

The role has been created by the Melksham Area Board, which currently offers financial grants to local groups and charities, and will cost the board £6,698 a year. The board will continue to fund the Melksham Community Area Partnership, at a lesser amount of £1,674.

The new scheme is the idea of area board chairman Cllr Jon Hubbard. He said: “Sometimes clubs and societies need more than money; they need help to be able to do something, so the idea is Phil will encourage people to get in and make things happen.

“They can bid for area board help in the same way they would bid for money, and he’s already got his fingers in so many pies he can help make that difference.”

Mr McMullen is also involved with the town’s chamber of commerce, the TransWilts Rail Partnership and Beanacre and Melksham Cricket Club. He was he driving force behind the recent Opportunity Melksham jobs fair in the Assembly Hall, He said: “The jobs fair recently was a classic example. Extended Services came along and wanted to start something from scratch which had never been done before.

“I spent donkey’s years as a civil servant so I know how to organise meetings, and make things happen.

“I have also organised eight or nine international rock festivals in my time, most of them in America.

“A lot of my skills come from running the cricket club, because again you have a lot of egos and a lot of different people from all walks of life pulling together.”

Applications for Mr McMullen’s assistance can be made through the Area Board, via alison.sullivan@wiltshire.