Mere, a small town in Wiltshire with a big heart, is being celebrated this March with four of its community members being shortlisted in categories for a prestigious Wiltshire Life Award.  

The creative, quirky florist and greengrocer's, Sprout and Flower, has been shortlisted in the Independent Retailer of the Year category. The local youth group Seeds4Success has been shortlisted in the Community Group of the Year category, while charity fundraiser (and super mum) Louise Bennett is shortlisted for the Local Hero of the Year award. Finally, successful Mere-based business co-founder Dan Beckles is up for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award! Dan co-owns Furniturebox.co.uk. 

Mere really does grow talent, and the community could not be prouder. When the shortlists were announced, locals took to social media pages to congratulate the individual achievements, and community spirit was high.


A closer look at the nominees

Dan Beckles

It takes courage to start a business at any age, so to build one up from scratch at the age of 17 is something worth celebrating. Dan Beckles co-founded the online furniture shop, Furniturebox, with school friend Monty George in 2015. Handling everything from customer service to dispatch, the pair have developed the company to now employ a team of 30.    

Dan, 23, has been recognised for his entrepreneurial skills by the Wiltshire Life Awards and is shortlisted for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2021. Monty received the same award in 2017. 

“He has an incredible emotional intelligence,” commented Kayla Wilson, a member of his team, “a maturity beyond his years. He makes people feel valued. It’s a really great company to be a part of.”  


Sprout and Flower

Members of the small team at Sprout and Flower, Mere
The team at Sprout and Flower

When is a shop more than just a shop? When it becomes an experience. Sarah Collins first opened the doors to Sprout and Flower in 2011 and since then it’s grown to be a favourite destination for locals and visitors alike. The shop is a visual explosion of colour with an emphasis on sustainability and community.

Sarah's eye for colour and detail has gained her a big following on social media.

Throughout the last year, Sarah and her small team have delivered grocery boxes to vulnerable and shielding members of the community and has remained open throughout the pandemic. Located right in the heart of the town, you cannot miss this little gem, whether you are driving through, or you have lived in Mere all your life. 

A box filled with fresh vegetables from Sprout and Flower, Mere
No plastic here! Sprout and Flower offers fruit and veg without packaging.

Louise Bennett

Louise and her children

Dubbed a Super Mum by all who know her for her endless bounds of energy, Louise Bennett is nominated for the Local Hero of the Year Award for her extensive charity fundraising, but she is also a bit of a local celebrity. Entertainment seems to be in her blood, with her contagious humour regularly providing light relief for the whole town.

Even visitors have stopped to photograph the hilarious displays regularly updated on her high street house. A string of underwear accompanied by a sign saying, ‘In a crisis, get naked!’ popped up at the start of the first lockdown for example. 

She’s also known to be one of the kindest, most generous people you can ever meet, having raised £32,000 to date for the Salisbury Stars Appeal.

We asked Louise how she felt about being nominated, she said, “I do feel very honoured that I’ve been shortlisted for the award. Over the years my fundraising has turned into a hobby which I absolutely love! It’s great seeing people enjoy themselves at my events.”  


Seeds4Success

Seeds4Success is a youth work charity which provides opportunities for personal and social development for young people living in South West Wiltshire. No young person is excluded as the charity provides transport from surrounding villages to attend the Mere-based building. Leisure Credits can be earned by taking part in community projects such as clearing foot paths and lending a hand at local events. The charity provides a holistic support system for those struggling with everything from education to mental health issues, plus much more. It’s also a good old-fashioned ‘hang out’ for local children, with regular opportunities for children to socialise outside of school hours. 

Excitement is building for the awards ceremony on 19th March 2021, which will take place online this year. But, win or not, their achievements are well deserved and the hard work and dedication of those involved to bring about the nominations is something to shout from the roof tops of Mere and beyond!