The Grove was opened in 2013 by two local couples: Andrew and Emma Doherty together with Andrew and Sarah Wright. Apart from Sarah the three friends grew up in Blackboys and in recent years were sad to see the village lose all its shops. The four of them wanted to set up something that would become a hub for the community, a central point where neighbours could meet and socialise in a warm, welcoming and relaxed environment. A place to create a community spirit, giving opportunities for people to come together around shared interests and that could also be used for village events.
Andrew, Emma and Sarah ran and managed the café while Andrew W continued his day job with English Woodlands Forestry. They were delighted to see relationships and connections being developed as the cafe became a meeting place for groups meeting informally.
In 2019 Andrew, Sarah and their two young children moved to Colorado, USA, for two years to attend Charis Bible College. Andrew and Emma needed some help and support in running the café. Gillian Clark together with Richard and Sharon Burt had lived in the village for several years and had been great supporters of the cafe since its opening days. They were soon invited to join the team.
With fresh impetus from these three and the encouragement and help from Suzi Lock at Action in Rural Sussex the vision for the Community Hub could be further developed. Living in rural communities the feelings of loneliness and isolation can be very pronounced. It is hoped that the various groups taking place at the hub will help to combat these feelings, giving opportunities to join in with other people when desired.
In January 2020 The Grove took on the running of The Space, adjacent to the café. A building that started life as a cow shed, and still has the bull pen and hay-racks in place, can be used for meetings, functions, classes and away days by businesses, clubs, and societies, arts and crafts groups as well as charities. This is a great opportunity for bringing all parts of the community together.
Andrew, Emma, Andrew, Sarah, Gillian, Richard and Sharon are all part of the local church, New Life Church Blackboys, and are all passionate about the village being a thriving, caring community to live in.