For 90 years now the Community Council for Somerset (CCS) has been supporting people across the county through some of the toughest times.

CCS is one of 38 Rural Community Councils, and was the third created in England.

The movement was born out of necessity, when many of the men in rural communities served in the First World War – and the work it does today is just as important as it was back then.

CCS has maintained its services through a world war, many recessions, social upheaval and seen many trending themes affect our rural communities including funding, rural housing developments and cut backs resulting in lack of services.

The organisation was the brain child of Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Thomas Henry Thynne in 1926.

So what does CCS do today?

Keeley Rudd, chief executive of Community Council for Somerset, said: “It’s been a really exciting year preparing to celebrate our 90th birthday.

“CCS supports people across the county in a number of ways.

From our oil scheme, which has helped members save over £200,000 in recent yearsto support with rural broadband.

“We also offer support to communities who are looking to get funding for projects, that includes helping to conduct surveys to find out what it is that residents want, to helping with their applications for funding.”

Keeley joined CCS in August 2010, initially as the community involvement officer, then progressing to community involvement manager in 2012. Keeley then became acting CEO from January 2015 while Katherine Armstrong, the outgoing CEO took her maternity leave.

However, following Katherine’s decision not to return, CCS Board unanimously appointed Keeley as the new CEO with effect from January 2016.

She added: “In the last year alone, we’ve had 3,475 visits to our Funding 4 Communities portal for advice/opportunities.

“Some of our other projects include the Bishop Fox’s Educational Foundation, which promotes young people through a grant scheme.

“One of the more recent projects which is continuing to grow is our Somerset Village Agents (VA’s).

“The VA’s offer support to people and community groups, from helping access different agencies to just offering advice if needed.”

CCS say that so far Village Agents have supported 2,284 clients across the county.

One of the VA’s is Audrey Mansfield, Audrey covers 13 villages and in-between, from Ashill down to West Hatch.

She’s been in the role for just over three years.

She said: “I was a police officer for 23 years and when I left, I wanted to do something to help communities.

“We help people across the county in several ways, I’ve helped people with housing applications, helped arrange funerals, all sorts really.

“I do enjoy it, you get to meet so many people and it’s very rewarding.”

CCS celebrated it’s 90 anniversary with a mini Farmers Market at Cheddon Fitzpaine Village Hall in June.

There were a large number of guests on the day – from those who volunteer and work for the organisation, to people and communities they have supported.

Guests were treated to donated refreshments and a tasty Somerset Cream tea. There were also cakes which were kindly donated by the Albermarle Centre.

Following a welcome from the current chair of trustees for CCS, Tess Gill, the event was officially opened by councillor Jon Cousins, the Mayor of Glastonbury.

He thanked all of those for attended and for celebrating the amazing achievements of the charity.

Chair of trustees for CCS, Tess Gill said: “It was lovely to see so many people to celebrate our 90th year.

“We thank all the wonderful donations we have received in order to hold our fantastic raffle and refreshments that all enjoyed.

“Thank you for supporting us and continuing to support us.”

One of the projects the organisation has been helping support is the campaign to build a new community hall for Blagdon Hill and Pitminster.

Project leader Duncan Meikle, said: “We’ve been trying to build a community and village hall for 12 years now.

“There’s nowhere in that area that is really a large space where people can gather for events and we want to change that.

“We applied for a Big Lottery grant in 2007 to help with the funding, unfortunately we were unsuccessful, and CCS has been helping us with our application this time around.

“They’ve been so supportive, and they also helped us to carry out a large community survey in the area to find out what people want.

“We are grateful for the support we’ve had.”

CCS shows no signs of slowing down in the next 90 years, as the vital projects it runs continue to grow, so does support.

If you think you could benefit from the work CCS does, visit their website to find out more –