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WE WON! Top in the UK for Rural Broadband!

added Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Whitchurch has soared to win in the BT Race to Infinity.

Let’s shout this from the rooftops!
Anyone with some left-over fireworks? Now’s the time to light them! It was announced this morning (Monday 3rd Jan 2011) that the Whitchurch exchange has achieved a top place in BT’s Race to Infinity and will be upgraded to faster fibre-optic broadband by the first part of 2012. The highest ranking six places have been selected.

Our exchange, which serves the town proper as well as several surrounding villages and hamlets but was not included in BT’s fibre-optic upgrade plans, beat out nearly 2500 other exchanges in the entire UK for the upgrade – a truly stunning and remarkable achievement!

Backed by the Town Council with significant donations from the Newbury Building Society and Albright International, the campaign took our Hampshire town from just a handful of votes to almost 100% in less than two months.

Some of the supporters and campaigners.

When the November Council Meeting was asked to financially back the campaign, no one really knew how it would develop. When Deputy Mayor Cllr Barry Jackman asked if there was confidence that volunteers could be found, the firm ‘Yes!’ convinced the Council and thus the campaign was born.

All working together
Under the direction of local residents Mike Stead, John Buckley and Andrew Reeves-Hall, the campaign took on an immediate urgency and focus that brought together all facets of the community from businesses, shops and pubs to community groups, schools, the surgery, public services, and of course the great people of Whitchurch, and the villages and hamlets surrounding it.

A fantastic team of helpers

A fantastic number of helpers and volunteers came forward, to give their time, expertise and energy to raise awareness of the opportunity and encourage people to vote. People worked together with a commitment rarely seen before.

Backed by local Councillors and our MP, the Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt., the campaign has been the biggest, and arguably the most successful in the area for many years.

The volunteers knocked on many of the doors of residents and businesses in all the towns and villages hooked up to the exchange. In the end, Whitchurch had collected more votes than any other winning town, at least 2460.

Working for a better future

A campaign-inspired decorated window, "Faster broadband for rural communities"

The town and surrounding area worked together with the vision that Whitchurch must not be left behind, that better access to health services, education resources, improved business connections and online entertainment all would benefit the community in the mid to longer term.

The faster Internet speed the upgraded exchange will bring is sure to increase the local economy of the Whitchurch area, as existing and new businesses seize the opportunity to speed ahead of the competition by doing their business here instead of other locations.

As a winner, Whitchurch will now have an opportunity to try and win a £5000 community computer prize and there are already some exciting suggestions being made!

Official Announcement Event
A full report of the campaign is being produced but in the meantime there is to be an official announcement and gathering outside the Town Hall tomorrow, Tuesday 4 January at 10.00am.

Then, on Saturday 8 January there is a party with free nibbles in the White Hart starting at 7:30pm.

EVERYONE IS URGED TO ATTEND BOTH EVENTS – and CELEBRATE the town’s achievement!

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Here are just a few of the helpers and supporters we would like to mention, in no particular order (apologies if anyone is missed):

Whitchurch Town Council • Whitchurch Association • Cllr Jackie Day • Cllr Barry Jackman • Cllr Dave Titcomb • Harriet Titcomb • Brian Jackman Builders • Denyse Coles • Sandra Smith • Cllr Keith Watts • Sarah Peters • Whitchurch Primary School • Hilary Jackson • Testbourne • Albright International • Newbury Building Society • Whitchurch Surgery • Basingstoke Gazette • Steve Miller • Minx Design • Graham Burgess • Andy Moss • Julie Moss • Staff at the White Hart • Russell Bainbridge • Christine Brown • Lloyds Chemist • John Rampton • Mark Williams • Alison Palmer • Anne Wood • Jackie Browne • Naomi Baker • Cathy Burt • Pat Cooper • Susan Clark • Basingstoke Observer • Caroline Barber • Dr Paul Barber • Cllr John Wall • Cllyr amd Town Mayor John Clark • Cllr Paul McGarvey • The Bell Inn • Sir George Young MP • Mark Oakton • Cllr Linda Thomas • Whitchurch.org.uk • Cllr Steve Robbins • WhitchurchBollards.org.uk • Volume UK • Tito Fernandez • Blue Ginger • Richard Cooper • Citizens Advice Bureau • BT • Jessica Rowntree • Kimberley Broadbent • Nigel Fergus • Karen Ford-Neath • Caroline O’Brien • Jo Bliss • Janin Cromarty • Everyone who voted • loads more…

Mike Stead, John Buckley & Andrew Reeves-Hall
Whitchurch Faster Broadband campaign

Official Confirmation - Whitchurch is a Winner