Melksham Art House Café hits £100,000 – Volunteers Week
A Rotary club-run community café has reached a notable fundraising milestone recently.
The Art House Café, run by Melksham Rotary Club has raised £100,000 for charities, while providing a focal point for members of the community to visit, socialise and enjoy a host of local art.
Speaking to BBC Wiltshire, Warwick Allen, a member of the club, explained what it’s all about, “We’ve been going since 2011. The Art House Café was originally a commercial enterprise run by Ian and Sue Drew of the Melksham News and they decided that they weren’t going to run it anymore as a business and they approached the club to discuss whether we would take it on.”
“It was a bit of a daunting prospect, there are only about 20 of us, so we thought hard about it and thought the only way we could do this was by getting a lot of volunteers involved and employ some chefs. There is an employed person there at all times but everyone else is a volunteer.”
“Because we’re right in the middle of town, we wanted this to be a community project and here we are five years later having raised £100,000 for charities. We are bowled over.”
Crucially, the café wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the dedication of volunteers. One of those volunteers is Colin Smith, “I retired in 2014 and had some spare time that I would like to give back to the community. I had a look around the Melksham area, went to the café and they took me on. At the café I can work on the tills, make the coffees and teas, clearing tables or in the kitchen.”
“The staff are pleasant and professional. We have a lot of characters in Melksham who visit the café for the fresh meals and scrumptious cakes which are made locally. It’s a very friendly place.”
“We wanted this to be a community project and here we are
five years later having raised £100,000 for charities.”
Visitors can also expect to see host of local, amateur artists showcasing their work, keeping the café’s interior fresh and lively.
“We have 12 exhibitions of amateur artists a year so every month fresh art comes in. Anyone can apply, we don’t judge people’s ability, so people can exhibit and sell their art. But we do have a big waiting list!” Warwick explained.
“It costs about £1 per month to put your art up and you’ve got a chance of selling it, which they do. There is no other gallery in the region, as far as we know, that allows amateur artists to put their work up.”
Not only does the café enhance the local area, but its fundraising allows for dozens of local charities to continue and expand their vital work.
“We support larger organisations like Wiltshire Mind through to smaller ones like the Melksham Shed and new charities like Julia’s House the list goes on and on. When we started, we decided that in general it would only raise money for local charities in the town of Melksham or surrounding villages or ones which support people living in the area.”
“Sometimes we have the odd week where will support things such as international disasters, because that is a big part of Rotary internationally. It’s proven to be really successful and really rewarding. When we donate the money we invite them down, we mix together and get to learn about what other people are doing in the area which is really good as well.”
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Published: Thursday 1st June 2017