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£1m appeal to support adults with learning difficulties launched

PUBLISHED: 09:50 03 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 June 2019

Lady Dannatt opening the latest £350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel Williams

Lady Dannatt opening the latest £350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

A £1m appeal to provide specialist living rooms at a north Norfolk charity for adults with learning difficulties has been launched.

Lady Dannatt opened the latest �350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel WilliamsLady Dannatt opened the latest �350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel Williams

As Thornage Hall Independent Living celebrated its official 30th birthday on Sunday, the latest £350,000 communal meeting and activity room was opened by the charity's patron, Philippa Dannatt.

Lady Dannatt, who becomes Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk in August and the first woman in the county to hold the post since it was created during Henry VIII's reign in the 1540s, unveiled a commemorative plaque.

Gregories Barn will provide a multi-use space for the charity's 27 tenants - as they like to be called - and about 30 day service users.

The trustees need to raise about £1m to build Orchard Lodge, which will provide four self-contained wheelchair accessible rooms. More specialist accommodation is needed and planning permission has been obtained.

Lady Dannatt opened the latest £350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel WilliamsLady Dannatt opened the latest £350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel Williams

It was announced that the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club has adopted the Orchard Lodge appeal as its 2020 charitable appeal, which could raise a significant six-figure sum.

Lady Dannatt told the 100-strong gathering of her delight to be invited to open the latest building, which had been completed by builders, TG Gill on time and to budget. The architect, Mike Reynolds, and project manager John Purselow, were thanked by Tom Fitzalan-Howard, vice-chairman.

Then a 14-strong choir sang two songs before Lady Dannatt met tenants, parents and staff, and was presented with home-grown organic produce, flowers and tea.

Ted Hare, chairman of trustees, said: "This is really a first-class resource and will be a major benefit for Thornage."

Lady Dannatt opened the latest �350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel WilliamsLady Dannatt opened the latest �350,000 communal meeting and activity room, Gregories Barn, at Thornage Hall. Photo: Daniel Williams

A 12-minute film - made by Archant's video team - charting the charity's growth since 1986 was shown. Since the grade I list Thornage Hall, which dates from 1482, was converted for tenants, other smaller groups of flats have been built over the years.

Thornage Hall, near Holt, was given by the late Lord Hastings in 1987 with 70 acres of land. About £600,000 was raised within months to convert the medieval hall and the charity was formally established in 1989.

In the past five years, it has invested more than £1m in new homes for the tenants, facilities and also up-grading heritage buildings.

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