Lover residents want to bring life back to village
Published 10/02/2016 | 08:01
Residents of the village Lover have sent out a Valentine's Day plea for help in their bid to bring life back to their rural home.
The Wiltshire village was once famous for its postmark, which brought thousands of romantics to deliver their Valentine's Day cards from the post office in order to get the distinctive mark.
The village name is so sought-after that the Lover road sign is regularly stolen.
But the Valentine's tradition ended in 2008 when the post office, along with the attached village store, closed - a sign of the challenges faced by locals to maintain a thriving village community which also lost the local pub as well.
Now the villagers are aiming to raise £110,000 to purchase the old Lover primary school - another local amenity which closed 10 years ago - with the aim of transforming it into a community centre and new home for the village's pre-school.
The residents of the New Forest village have already amassed £70,000 and have sent 50 Valentine cards to locally-connected brands and personalities asking them to share a bit of love - and money - with their village.
Nick Gibbs, chairman and trustee of the Lover Community Trust, said: "This is a very exciting opportunity for Lover and for anyone who believes in loving village life.
"We want to show that villages can boost their mojo again by bringing people together, taking ownership of the challenge and creating a village that works for modern times."
And their campaign does not end with a new community centre, they have ambitions to bring back the famous postal service to the village and have organised a 5km fun run for next year to boost funds and community spirit.
Resident Katie Gibbs - a full-time mum, artist and corporate coach - said: "This a love letter to our village, a love story, we have played on the village name, but we love this village and we want others to love it too.
"It is also linked to the national issue of villages closing down, there's a real passionate community here in Lover that still want to enjoy our village.
"We can take real and emotional ownership of our village and we want the village hall to remain a part of it. This is our home, we enjoy living here and we want to make the most of its facilities.
"We have lost all that a village needs so that is why we are passionate about rejuvenating the school into a community centre."
Lover, part of the Redlynch parish, was originally called Westminster Green, but by 1876 it was known as Lover, possibly a corruption of Lower Redlynch.
The village centres around St Mary's Church which was built in 1837 and the former school was originally built in 1839 and re-built in 1878.
It became Redlynch Church of England primary school and after it closed in 2006, its playing fields were transferred to the parish council and re-named Lover Green.
The green is maintained by the community and is the venue for the annual Lover Country Fayre. In 2015, the community registered the Lover Community Trust as a charity to raise funds for the purchase of the school buildings from the church and transform it in to a community centre for the parish.
This is a bid to celebrate village life and rescue it from future commercial development. For more details visit the village's fundraising page at gofundme.com/lovervillage.