The future of the Methodist Church


Although it has been the summer holiday period work has still been continuing in the background.

Firstly the Steering Group has been regrouped to become the Management Committee for the Freeland Community Benefit Society which is ready for the time when we can issue Shares to the Freeland Community.

Excellent work has been done on the new Freeland Community Benefit Society website, which will continue to be updated when appropriate.  Many thanks to Colin for his input.

As mentioned last month we have been working with a professional artist to produce an artist's impression of how the Methodist Church might look as our village shop and hub.  We are very pleased with the work done by Amanda Cooper.  Look out for posters displaying the results which will be placed at strategic points in the village.

There will be TWO fund raising events in September which we are hoping will be well supported by everyone in Freeland and beyond.  The first is the Treasure Hunt on Tuesday 4 September 2018 at 2-5pm.  Please see the separate advert elsewhere in the Grapevine for more information.

Secondly there will be the Folk concert at the Village Hall on Sunday 23 September 2018 to be played by the Riot of Gollins.  Again please see the separate entry in the Grapevine.  We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at both events.

As usual if you wish to make contact our address is

Jane Duff    September 2018


July 2018

During the past month the Steering Group have continued to plan for the future, so the  Business Plan, Fundraising Events and research for grants have all been worked on.

We will be working with a Graphic designer from mid July who will produce promotional materials for the project, and we are looking forward to the completion of this next step.

Our next fundraising event is a Folk Band Concert by RIOT OF GOLLINS, at Freeland Village Hall on Sunday 23 September 2018 at 8pm.  Doors will open at 7.30 and tickets will be available on the door at £10.  Numbers will be limited to 90 tickets so make sure you come in good time.  Please see the article giving the background to this concert in the Grapevine.

As usual you can get in touch at

Jane Duff     July 2018

May 2018

At the time of writing there has been no further indication as to when the Methodist Church will be For Sale. We will have to continue to be patient and refine our strategy and paperwork as much as possible given the constraints of the circumstances.

The grant application to West Oxfordshire District Council has been submitted for a potential sum of £50K and we await the outcome in due course.

Freeland Village Hub project has been nominated for The Post Office’s Common Unity Competition with the chance of winning £1000 towards the funds. There are 100 prizes to be won – so fingers crossed!

On Friday 27 April we were very pleased to welcome Tim Allen the Manager of the Ilmington Shop to Freeland to give a presentation of how the Ilmington Shop and Café came into being. This was a most interesting account of the journey from inception to present day and those present had the opportunity to raise questions and concerns to Tim before more informal discussions took place with cheese and wine. The story of Ilmington is truly inspiring and it would be a wonderful asset for our village if we could replicate this and have a Hub of our own. Not withstanding this we should not underestimate the dedication and hard work required to bring such a project to fruition and beyond.

Once again thank you to those who have generously donated to our funds. For details of how to donate please email or speak to a member of the Steering Group who will be pleased to help, confidentially if required. Cheques should be made payable to Freeland Village Hub Steering Group.

Jane Duff Communications Sub Group May 2018

Jane Duff May 2018 Communications Sub Group


At the time of writing there is no further news regarding the sale of the Methodist Church and when it will come to the market.

Meanwhile the first major fund raising event has been a resounding success.  A concert in St Mary's Church on Sunday 8 April was attended by over 70 people, filling the Church to almost capacity, whilst enjoying an outstanding programme of French early 20th century music for Violin and Piano played by Hannah Laurens and Tom McCoy.  The music took us on a fantastic sensory journey with compositions by Lilli Boulanger, Ravel and Fauré amongst others.

It was a great way to spend a drizzly Sunday afternoon for both adults and children.

Our thanks go to Hannah and Tom for their outstanding playing, to Tim Howes for the loan of the Piano, to the Reverend David Tyler for allowing us to use the Church.  We raised a sum of some £600 after expenses and a donation to the Church which was most encouraging.

Meanwhile the Steering Group continue to prepare documentation in readiness for when the Church comes to the market.  A grant application to West Oxfordshire District Council has been completed and will be submitted on the 13 April 2018 for a grant of £50K towards Capital Costs.

By the time you read this  many of you will have enjoyed our Open Meeting on 27 April in the Village Hall when Tim Allen, Manager of the Ilmington Shop and Café took us on an inspiring journey from the start to the highly successful day to day working of their enterprise.  Such a facility in Freeland would surely help to benefit our village community in similar ways.

Thank you for all your generous donations that have been received from individuals, the Parish Council and Village Organisations.  We have exceeded our Fighting Fund target, but of course more will be needed.  For details of how to donate please email

or speak to a member of the Steering Group who will be pleased to help, confidentially if required.

If you can help in anyway please approach one of the Steering Group or make contact by the Freeland Facebook page or village website.  We need you to take up this cause and give it your support.  We will be very pleased to hear from you.

Alaa Al-Yousuf – Vice Chairman Freeland Village Hub Steering Group

Jane Duff – Communications Sub-Group email

April 2018


Last month a letter was hand delivered to each house in the village asking for support for the Fighting Fund, thank you so much to all  those who have donated so far and to those of you who attended the Open evening at the Oxfordshire Yeomen.  We are on the way to reaching our initial target but we are not there yet.   At present we have £1200 in our funds after some payments have been made.

If you are still wondering whether to support this initiative and would like to hear about the difference a community shop/café can make, then do come along to our next meeting for the Village which will be on Friday 27 April 2018 at 7.30pm in the Village Hall.  We will have a guest speaker Tim Allen, Chairman and Secretary of the Ilmington Community Shop and Café.  Come and hear at first hand the success story of their village project – the very facility that inspired us to start our venture.  Take a look at their website and you too will be inspired.

Since our last report in the Grapevine we have had two pieces of good news.  Firstly our application to WODC Planning Department for the change of use to a shop and café has been accepted for the Methodist Church.

Secondly our application to become a Community Benefit Society is now complete and in due course we will be inviting everyone in Freeland to purchase shares in our community project.  Each share will be priced at just £10.  More information will be available in due course.

Finally as part of the fund raising effort we are very pleased to announce a Violin and Piano Recital  on Sunday 8 April 2018 at 3pm in St Mary's Church, Freeland in aid of the Freeland Village Hub fund.  Tickets can be bought from Freeland Nurseries or on the Door.  Adults £10, children £5.

Do come along and support this event and enjoy some superb playing.

We are working to develop a programme of events over the coming months.  If you can help in anyway please approach one of the Steering Group or make contact via the Facebook page or village website.   We need you to take up this cause.  If you can help please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Steering Group, we will be very pleased to hear from you.

Alaa Al-Yousuf Vice Chairman Freeland Village Hub Steering Group

Jane Duff  Communications Sub Group

Methodist Church Update - Feb 2018

The newly formed Steering Group held their first, inaugural meeting on the 12th December 2017.

The meeting began with the appointment of Chairperson, Vice Chairpersons, Secretary and Treasurer.

In order to make the work of the Steering Group more effective a division into sub groups and leaders has been established to cover the main aspects of the preparatory work.

A further constructive meeting was held on 3rd January to follow up the various proposals and actions.

The following actions have been taken and drafting of key documents has been commenced by the work groups:-

·     Terms of Reference developed to set out the responsibilities and objectives of the 'Group to the point of handover of the facility.

·     Overall Strategic Plan - to provide a vision and direction to the project.

·     Outline Business Plan - to ascertain the viability of the project.

·     Project Plan - to provide a framework for the tasks involved and also to set out a stakeholder register and communication strategy.

·     Risk Register and Inter-dependencies Matrix.  

·     Planning application submitted to WODC for a change of use of the building to 'flexible use' to permit a café, shop and meeting place.

·     Bank account established.

·     Meeting arranged with the Plunkett Foundation Advisor, to be held in February.

·     Initial contact made with the Methodist Church representatives to indicate our interest in purchasing the building.

Further key arrangements / activities planned:

·     Submit an application to join the Plunkett Foundation.

·     Negotiate the acquisition of the Methodist Church, subject to survey, as our preferred choice or search for other options if the Church is not a viable proposition.

·     Set up an incorporated Community Benefit Society to own the building and run the Hub.

·     Raise the necessary funds from a community-share issue, grants and other sources.

·     Form a Management Committee to establish and operate the business.

In order to progress the project at this preliminary stage we need to collect a Fighting Fund to cover the cost of incorporation, structural survey, planning application, legal fees and other sundry costs.  A conservative estimate for this is between £2000 and £3000.  This is money that is mostly required immediately and is needed regardless of the outcome of any potential purchase.

The Plunkett Foundation provides guidelines, legal advice and assistance for community self-help projects and has appointed an Advisor to work with us. For further information about this organisation see

The Steering Group, on behalf of the village of Freeland, are committed to providing a Social Hub for the village in the Methodist Church - being the much preferred option. However we will seek an alternative site and review other options should we be unsuccessful in purchasing the Methodist Church.

Over the coming weeks please look out for a Social Media campaign, further posts on the Freeland Village Website and a new Facebook page.  We also plan to send a letter to each household in the Village as part of the fund-raising campaign asking for support to back this community effort. If you would like to contribute to the 'Fighting Fund' you will find donation boxes in The Yeoman and The Garden Centre. We will soon be able to receive online donations too, details of which will be available on, on Facebook (Freeland Village Hub) and in the letter to all households. Please note, if we are unsuccessful in our efforts and money remains within the account it will be donated to other worthwhile causes within the village.

The fourteen members of the Steering Group are working hard to support this venture with considerable time and effort so as to be in a position to negotiate with the Methodist Church when the building is placed on the market.  Please help them by giving as generously as you are able.  

Jane Duff, Communications Sub group leader / Andy Murray, Secretary and Joint Project Coordinator.

Background information

If the building were to be purchased by the community, the facilities would be run by a cooperative with membership open to all residents of the village on the purchase of a single share. Members would vote for a Managing Committee. We would expect the café and/or shop (the ‘Village Hub’) to employ one or more managers and be supported by volunteers. Further shares could be purchased as an investment in the enterprise.

The working group has been set up to investigate the feasibility of buying the building, and positive feedback was received at an open meeting in September (for further details, please see below). The work involved, however, in establishing such an enterprise would be considerable and would need the support of the majority of Freeland residents in order to succeed.


If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch:

♣     by email:

♣     by phone: Alaa Al-Yousuf (880689) or Colin Smith (881704).

Further Information

The following provide useful further information or resources:

Plunkett Foundation ( – which supports people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run community co-operatives, enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community.

A good example of what can be achieved:

Information on investing in community enterprises: