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Community Centre Update

C onsiderable progress has been made since my last report, three months ago. Of massive positive impact has been the foresight shown by the Parish Council in the proposed sale of land adjoining the cemetery (as announced in the last Informer) and allocation of some of the proceeds to the Community Centre. This great news, together with an encouraging verbal response from a representative of one major grant source, has given us sufficient confidence to instruct our architects to start drawing up plans for an impressive multi-purpose complex that we truly believe would prove to be an enormous asset to the village. I must stress the word ‘would’ – we still face obstacles.

ultimate Centre. Over the coming weeks and months we will be making many applications, but arguably the Big Lottery is our best chance for a substantial grant. Unfortunately, because of the 2012 Olympic Games, grants from this source are stopping in the near future. To even stand a chance with the Big Lottery in the next two years we had to make an application by the end of April. Ian Thorburn in particular ‘burned the midnight oil’ to achieve this deadline – the amount and diversity of supportive information required is beyond belief!

I have named Ian, but thanks are also due to the many others have also stepped forward to offer their help, and the individuals and organisations who supplied some of the supportive information.

To whet your appetite… the centre being planned is about 1100 square metres, and would hopefully provide at least the following:

  • Superb changing facilities to accommodate the ever-increasing sporting activities in the village

  • A large, impressive, sub-dividable function hall for wedding receptions, drama productions etc., with a stage, lighting, and access to a well-equipped kitchen and to a bar

  • Multi-purpose meeting/conference rooms

  • A bar/coffee lounge with access to indoor and outdoor children’s play-areas

  • Two offices (one for the Parish Clerk)

  • Toilets and cloakrooms

  • Internal and external storage

  • Patio areas, landscaping, car parking, lighting, security systems etc.

The centre will cater for the disabled and address environmental issues.

It is hoped that initial drawings will be available by Gala Day. As far as siting, design etc. of the Centre is concerned, we await suggestions from the architects.

Now I must refer to some of the more major remaining challenges. In addition to likely sources of income referred to above, we need at least one more ‘substantial’ grant to more or less guarantee our

Incidently, this also includes a Business Plan that covers many areas, including how the Centre would be run and how it would be financed post construction. Our calculations are that it would, at least, break even financially from Year 1 onwards. We also have a vision as to how it would be managed, but need to discuss these ideas with the Parish Council before giving further details.

Time is on our side, as we have now to wait patiently for a decision from the Big Lottery. In fact, it will be well over a year, even if our Stage 1 application is successful, before we learn whether or not we are to be granted money.

Another major challenge is to be placed on you, me and all other residents of Isleham. All major grant providers, before giving us money, require evidence of what they describe as matched funding. Basically this means that we have to show them that we have committed some of our monies to the project before they will commit theirs. Back in 1952, when the Village Hall was built, the residents had to contribute 50% of the cost – and they did. Thanks mainly to the proposed monies from the Parish Council, the contribution required from us is only about 5% – but this still equates to many thousands of pounds. We will be seeking corporate and other business sponsorship as well as organising various fund-raising events, but, when called upon we will need a generous response from you also. In the meantime if you would like to organise a fund- raising event then please contact Diane Bayliss (01638 781687): we can help publicise it.

We are in the process of establishing a charitable trust, to be known as the Isleham Community Association. When this, with its own bank account, is in place we will be requesting donations by cheque, standing orders etc. As I stated in the last edition of the Informer, the time is coming for us to stand up and be counted. Residents did this in 1952 – are we prepared to make similar sacrifices? With your help, and one more substantial grant, Isleham should have its multi-purpose Community Centre which we, and the vast majority of the respondents to our questionaire, believe will be of immeasurable benefit to the village.

Philip Aspland, Chai , Steering Committee.

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