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Outdoor activity centre marks 50th anniversary

The Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of Norwich

The Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of Norwich

The Diocese of Norwich

A unique outdoor activity centre in the Norfolk Broads is calling on people to share memories of their visits to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

The Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of NorwichThe Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of Norwich

The Horstead Centre, the only Church of England children’s residential activity centre in the country, has provided fun days out and action-packed stays for some 300,000 children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures since the 1960s.

The centre, based in the Old Rectory in Horstead, works with schools, youth groups and charities for team building days and features facilities including a climbing wall, zip wire, low and high ropes and a Jacob’s ladder as well as archery, canoeing and kayaking.

It also offers bushcraft activities where visitors can learn survival skills such as lighting and cooking on an open fire, sterilising water from a stream and building a waterproof shelter to sleep in.

Horstead Centre manager Josie Barnett said the centre’s uniqueness had helped it to “not just survive but flourish”.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, tries his hand at archery on a visit to the Horstead Centre in 2007. Picture: ARCHANTFormer Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, tries his hand at archery on a visit to the Horstead Centre in 2007. Picture: ARCHANT

“The centre provides a wonderful place for young people to develop their spiritual, physical, intellectual and social capacities within a caring Christian community,” she said.

“Horstead is needed as much today as it was 50 years ago when a true visionary, Canon Arthur Gillion, set it aside as a special place for young people.”

St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School in Bury St Edmunds is among the schools to have run school trips to the centre over the decades.

Headteacher Kate Copeland said: “As a school, we have continued to return to the Horstead Centre year after year as a result of the great experiences our children have had when visiting.

The Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of NorwichThe Horstead Centre in the Norfolk Broads, the only Church of England children's residential activity centre in England, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: The Diocese of Norwich

“The warm welcome from the friendly staff and the supportive encouragement given to the pupils to develop their resilience, stretch themselves and try something new or outside of their comfort zone whilst visiting the centre is also a key reason for our return each year.

“From the wide variety of activities on offer, right through to the delicious home cooked food we enjoy tucking into each evening, we’ve got nothing but positive praise for our experiences of the Horstead Centre.”

To mark its 50th anniversary the Horstead Centre is asking people to share memories of their visits – contact admin@horsteadcentre.org.uk.

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