'Worst period in our history' - How Hill bouncing back after Covid
- Credit: How Hill
A much-loved education centre is preparing to bounce back from the "worst period" of its history, which nearly saw it go under due to coronavirus.
How Hill on the Broads has not had a school residential visit since 2020, leading to a massive shortfall in funds.
As it prepares for a revamp of its dormitories, the centre's director Simon Partridge has said that without the furlough scheme the site at Ludham could have closed its doors for good.
He said: "Without the furlough scheme we would have gone under. It's been very difficult indeed. We had to lose two of our staff.
"We had our last residential stay with us in March 2020."
The centre is now looking to the future and is preparing for a revamp of its dormitories, due to be completed early next year.
Its trustees have approved the conversion, with shared bath and toilet facilities to be turned into en-suite rooms. It hopes the change will also spark a revival in adult courses, such as yoga.
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The number of beds will be reduced from 44 to 39 under plans agreed by the board but the work – planned for this winter – will not only provide improved health and safety for children but also make the centre more welcoming to adults.
About 40 schools a year stay at How Hill, with children enjoying a wide range of activities as they learn about the joys and history of the Broads. Thousands of youngsters have visited over the decades.
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Mr Partridge said: "We have been in constant contact with schools and they have been very supportive of what we are planning.
“After the worst period in our history due to Covid we are entering the most exciting time since the centre was taken over by the current charity trust in 1984.”
Recently the centre has seen only about 5pc of its activities and income linked to adult courses and visits. Mr Partridge hopes that figure will rise to 30pc.
He said: "We really want to build it up."
In an encouraging sign for the centre and its hopes of having more groups back, a Cheshire-based bird enthusiasts group that used the centre in the 1980s is interested in returning.