Marlborough's grassroots community organisations and good causes were celebrated and rewarded at a special event thrown by new convenience store Budgens of Marlborough on Thursday.
The store's community giveaway saw £3,000 given away on the night with a further £3,000 to follow when the £2m shop, Subway food outlet, car wash and petrol forecourt open at Marlborough Business Park on October 18.
Nineteen community organisations competed for a share of the jackpot, with the final nine – chosen by the public on the store's Facebook page – battling it out during the final at Theatre on the Hill, St John's School.
The final decision was left to the public using Wiltshire Council's voting handsets, with the process managed by community area manager Andrew Jack. Phoenix Brass Band, Savernake Forest Scout Group and Wiltshire Air Ambulance walked away with cheques for £1,000 each after pitching their organisation to the voting audience.
All of the finalists, who included Carer Support Wiltshire, Marlborough Communities Market, St John's School, We Love Marlborough, Marlborough Brandt Group, and Splitz will get a share of £3,000 through an in-store customer token scheme.
The event, which was free to attend, also gave members of the public the opportunity to meet directors and staff involved with the new Budgens store, look over the plans, and sample some of the wares.
And members of the audience were so moved by one of the presentations that the charity was handed a cash donation by a member of the public straight after the event.
The initiative was well received by members of the public. Kate Major, a supporter of Phoenix Brass Band, said: “It was a fabulous evening; very enjoyable,” while Susan Dickins said: “It was an excellent evening. When I did finally get to sleep after all that excitement I woke up the following morning still smiling!”
Diane Barkham of Carer Support Wiltshire said: “A big thank you for giving us the opportunity to take part in such a great and generous initiative. “It is because of kind businesses like yourselves that we are able to raise awareness as well as have the chance to try and gain a little extra funding which really makes a difference.”
Mark Wilson, of Budgens of Marlborough, told guests that Fraser Retail Group had been trying to move into Marlborough for over 10 years. And explaining the thinking behind the Community Giveaway, he said: “We are all about how we can work with the community and become part of the community and rather than just take, give a little back.
“It’s also about working with local suppliers in giving them an opportunity to bring their products to market where otherwise they would struggle and often struggle to even survive.”
The event was officially opened by the mayor of Marlborough, councillor Edwina Fogg, who praised Budgens of Marlborough for their community spirit and welcomed the creation of 50 new jobs in a tough economic climate.