Villagers' in Box near Chippenham are being urged to sign a petition to prevent a vicar described as a 'rock in the community' from being turfed out of her home.

At the time of writing, more than 1,450 people have signed the petition to keep Reverend Clair Southgate in her home in Queens Square, Box.

But now she is being threatened with eviction by the GreenSquareAccord housing association which wants to sell her house.

The Chippenham-based organisation has given 57-year-old Rev Southgate notice to find somewhere else to live.

It says the cost of bringing her home up to the right standard would not be a responsible long-term investment and therefore it must be sold.

Reverend Clair Southgate is facing eviction from her home of the past 20 years. Trevor Porter 77166-1Reverend Clair Southgate is facing eviction from her home of the past 20 years.  (Image: Trevor Porter)

Rev Southgate, who cannot drive, said: “I just feel horrendous. I can’t see a way forward to be anywhere near to the people that I love.

“I have worked here for nearly 30 years and have lived here for 20 years. I don’t want to live anywhere else.

“I know that I don’t have a choice. I can’t afford to move out of social housing because my role as a teaching assistant doesn’t pay enough.

“I just want to live where people know where I am and can knock on my door.”

Dr Brian Mathew, who launched the petition, said: “Clair is a rock in our community. She not only serves as a volunteer vicar at Box St Thomas a Becket Church, she works as a teaching assistant at Box Primary School, where she is also a school governor.

“She organizes so much in the village, including the yearly remembrance service at the War Memorial and much more besides.

“If GreenSquareAccord have their way and evict her and her beloved dogs from the home she has happily lived in for the last 20 years then Box will not only lose one of its most vital champions, she will lose her home and her job.

“Clair cannot drive because of her health and disabilities and if she is 'rehoused' outside the village she will not be able to continue her activities.”

GreenSquareAccord housing asociation says Mrs Southgate's home is too costly to bring up to the right standard and wants to sell it. Trevor Porter 77166-2GreenSquareAccord housing association says Ms Southgate's home is too costly to bring up to the right standard and wants to sell it. (Image: Trevor Porter)

Rev Southgate is an associate minister with the Lidbrook Group, which includes St John the Baptist Church in Colerne, St Christopher’s Church in Ditteridge, and St Thomas a Becket Church in Box with Hazelbury.

A GreenSquareAccord spokesperson said: “We recognise this news has been distressing for Mrs Southgate and we are committed to supporting her during this process.

“We are already in discussions with Mrs Southgate about available housing options and will support her to find a new home which meets her needs.

“We would like to be clear that she will not need to leave until we have worked with her to find a new home. She will be eligible for compensation, and we will cover expenses associated with her move.

“As a not-for-profit social housing provider, we have a duty to make sure our homes meet the needs of our customers. This includes ensuring they are energy efficient and as cheap to run as possible. To achieve this we must make sensible, sustainable decisions about our investments.

“Following a survey to assess the condition of Mrs Southgate’s home it was clear the level of long-term investment needed to bring the property up to the right standard would not represent a responsible investment.”

“We appreciate decisions may appear unfair in isolation, but like all not-for-profit social housing providers we have a limited pot of funding with which we are required to maintain the 25,000 homes we own and manage across England, and our responsibility and duty is to all our customers.”

To sign the petition, go to