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Cottage lets youngsters boost coffers

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 14, 2014

The youngsters are enterprising

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When village youngsters get together to raise funds for their youth club, they usually do a sponsored bike ride or a car wash.

But the enterprising young people of one Wiltshire village have, for the past year, maintained and run their own holiday cottage – and netted more than £6,000 towards their ambitious projects.

A group of teens in Aldbourne, a quiet village near Marlborough, were given Hales Cottage by a local family charity after the Aldbourne Youth Council took part in a project to renovate a number of buildings in the centre of the village last summer.

And for the past year they have advertised the cottage through a national holiday cottage website, taken bookings, spruced it up between customers and hired tradesmen to fix things.

In its first year, the property has raised more than £6,600 through holiday bookings, which has been reinvested back into their latest project, the Community Junction, and enabled the charity to become a sustainable endeavour for the first time.

The council is run and managed entirely by village youngsters aged 11 to 18, with adult trustees giving minimal support.

The group won a Prince of Wales Award earlier this summer – and a £1,000 prize – and they are ploughing their profits into the Community Junction, which will be a one-stop community hub for the village, and a youth club and hang-out for the teens.

The group of youngsters do everything to keep the holiday cottage one of the most attractive in the area, and bookings have flooded in.

"The holiday let gives us the opportunity to experience and learn things that aren't taught in school, as well as develop new skills, such as interior design or how to plan and plant a cottage garden," said Amber Phelps, who is the chair of the council at the age of just 14.

She said that the adults overseeing it only get involved when the dreams of youth need a bit of a reality check.

"Our trustees are always there to guide us if our ideas are a bit too unrealistic! None of this would be possible without the amazingly generous support of the Kingham Family Trust, who purchased the building for us in the first place and have supported us through the whole project," she added.

The young people don't just give the holiday cottage a bit of a clean every now and then – every aspect of running a holiday let is under their control, from property renovation and maintenance, hiring professionals or recruiting volunteers to do a bit of interior design, electricians, painters and decorators, plumbers and builders.

The regional manager of website cottages4you which advertises the cottage, said guests would not know the difference.

"The success of Hales Cottage within its first year is testament to the great work," she said.

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