Holt Community Centre’s rallying cry to the town for help

A group rallying to save a 45-year-old community hub has sent out a cry for support as it battles its way back from the 'doldrums.'

The chairman of the executive committee of Holt Community Centre Pelham Clark, said he wants to see the building become multi-functional for all walks of life in the town, including families and young people.

The aim is to raise more than �75,000 to transform the building into a place which reflects the town's needs.

Mr Clark, a retired builder, said: 'Because of the economic climate things have changed and we now have to base our project more around the fundamental problems of Holt, not a deteriorating building - we've got to involve the whole community in our plans.'

He added that five years ago the centre was 'in the doldrums' and bookings had decreased.

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'But 2011 was the first year that we have broken even, financially, for about 20 years,' he said.

The building, which has been serving its users since the 1970s, has 20 groups regularly using the centre with 24,000 people visiting it each year.

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Improvements have been made within the last two years including the insulation of walls, installation of solar panels on the roof which has resulted in an annual saving of �1500, installation of sound-proof doors which has enabled the building to be divided into two for events, and lighting has been replaced in the room where the council meet – at the council's expense – in the lounge area and in the exit signs. A porch area has also been created.

Mr Clark said: 'We need to raise in the region of �70,000 to �75,000 in total. So far �40,084 has been raised, of which the community of Holt has contributed �6,000.

'The main grants have come from the Lottery's Community Sustainable Energy Programme, Awards for All, Norfolk Community Foundation and the Geoffrey Watling Charity.'

Mr Clark said on-going improvements still to be made include a complete refurbishment of the male and female toilets, provisions for a disable toilet, renewal of the 'inadequate' heating, renewal of lighting in the main hall and replacement of the oven, which will cost in the region of �3,800.

He added: 'A lot of people think that they don't know anything about the community centre. A lot of people think the town council run the centre which is not true.

'We want to run more interesting functions and turn the centre into a more family and youth orientated building, which is difficult when you come to think that Holt has the highest percentage of people over 60 years old in north Norfolk - at 45pc.'

'We want people to make collections, put on concerts, run raffles or do something to help us raise the money needed. I would welcome any suggestions.'

Upcoming events include a Holt's Got Talent show later in the year and a music evening performance from Gresham's School on March 2.

• For more information or to help with fund-raising please call Freda Davey at the admin office on 01263 713427.

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