Scout activity centre devastated by fire reopens after £500k revamp
- Credit: Eaton Vale Scout and Guide Activity
A popular scout and guide centre that was devastated by a fire is set to welcome back residential groups after a £500,000 renovation.
The huge blaze at Eaton Vale Scout and Guide Activity broke out on March 31 last year and swept through its indoor residential centre, Iceni House, leaving it gutted and causing significant structural damage.
Unusually, due to coronavirus restrictions, the centre at the Eaton Vale campsite, off Church Lane in Eaton near Norwich, was empty when the fire broke out so fortunately no one was hurt.
Now 15 months after the blaze the centre is reopening after the first phase of repairs costing close to £500,000
Julie Howes, chair of trustees at the charity, said: “Now we can open up again as restrictions lift and with Iceni House available for residential trips we can help young people to forget about all the stresses of the past 18 months.
“Without Iceni House we have only been able to offer day visits to young people, so reopening it feels like the beginning of the end."
The 13.5-acre Eaton Vale Activity Centre was founded by Norfolk Scouts and Girlguiding Norfolk in 2002, its facilities are used by schools, a variety of youth groups and selected family events as well as scouts and guides.
It offers activities from kayaking to trapeze, archery to buggy building and is home to a popular holiday club.
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As well as restoring the fire-ravaged building, the centre has been redesigned and refurbished to make it more flexible for different group sizes and needs and to allow more young people to stay.
The majority of the refurbishment has been funded by insurance, but an additional £100,000 is needed to eventually fit out a second kitchen and to replace training and meeting spaces.
The reopening is being celebrated with an open house invitation to the public to visit Iceni House over three days from August 14-16.
Centre manager Susan Newton said opening ther centre and welcoming back youngsters after lockdown restrictions had been amazing.
“We are so excited to be able to welcome residential visitors back to Eaton Vale after the devastating fire last year,” she said.
“Hearing the chatter, the laughter, the noise and songs of young people around the site again is wonderful.”