Ashburnham Christian Trust

East Sussex, UK

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Bringing together a vibrant community by providing a space to retreat, reflect and connect is the vision behind Ashburnham Christian Trust (ACT).

The charity’s home is Ashburnham Place, a prayer and conference centre offering learning and support, to help guests make a positive mark within their community.

Several other buildings on the 220-acre site provide additional meeting space, refreshment areas and guest accommodation.

Surrounded by parkland, trees and lakes, it’s a beautiful and tranquil setting. However, the age and number of buildings within the grounds meant that keeping energy costs under control became a perennial challenge.

ACT's tractor storage shed (in background) houses the 400kW biomass boiler and wood chip store.


After exploring funding options, ACT approached CAF Bank for a £1.6 million secured loan, to help finance the cost of a new heating system and refinance an existing loan on more favourable terms.

The loan allowed the charity to invest in a full bio-mass wood chip boiler, converting the heating source from oil to wood. A new underground district heating network that serves several buildings across the site was also installed as a result of the plans.

This project is helping reduce the organisation’s energy bills, while also making its operations more environmentally-friendly.


Explaining their choice of lender, Andy Proudfoot, General Director of ACT, said: “In 2015, we set out to find possible lenders for support.

“We were looking for an ethical supplier and liked what CAF Bank stood for. And we have no complaints at all. They walked us through the finances of it all very well and offered us a better rate which was more affordable for us.”

In addition, owning the assets rather than renting them, has helped the charity to strengthen its balance sheet, building future resilience.


The charity regularly hosts church groups, schoolchildren, and corporate teams and also arranges festivals and outreach activities for locally unemployed people, to help them reintegrate with their community.

The organisation also provides a land-based employability programme as well as a private counselling service for those who need a safe space to talk.

Individuals are referred to the charity from local businesses, job centres and medical services.

Client Lending Manager at CAF Bank Joe Hehir, said: “You can tell that people really enjoy coming out to Ashburnham Place and taking some time to themselves. In today’s world, that is so important for wellbeing. And it was great to support that, and help the charity continue to play a pivotal role in the local community.”


Explore how your charity can fund projects to purchase or develop capital assets. Download this guide to repayable finance or contact our charity loan experts.

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