'Buzzing to be back' - Life returns for 58 tenants ito community centre
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Life has returned to a town’s “vibrant” community centre, after all 58 tenants welcomed the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
From hairdressers and tattooists to an on-site college, café and community supermarket, the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford is home to a wide range of businesses, support groups and clubs.
And this week its tenants were “absolutely buzzing” to be back.
The centre’s new chief executive Nik Chapman, who took over during the third national lockdown, said he is proud of the businesses who have weathered the storm.
“We have not lost any tenants over the Covid period,” he said.
“In fact, we have a waiting list of people wanting to come in and take up rented space. We now have 58 different businesses, charities, clubs and start-ups. We have literally run out of space which is a great position to be in.
You may also want to watch:
“Last year with government grants and the enthusiasm from our tenants to keep going meant none of them went to the wall, which is fantastic.
“The sense of community from those who live locally to those who have businesses here has been so uplifting and encouraging.”
- 1 Body found in search for missing 87-year-old Margaret Smith
- 2 'I can't carry it' - Shock as plant starts growing eight inches a day
- 3 WATCH: 'Selfish' drug-driver ploughs into police detective's vehicle
- 4 Norfolk man who had sexual relationship with teen jailed
- 5 Two Norfolk businesses star in TV show
- 6 Fly-tipper travelled from Welsh border to dump in Norfolk
- 7 Aldi planning four new stores in Norfolk
- 8 The Range confirms new store at former Outfit on retail park
- 9 Funeral held for much loved windsurfer after body found in Sweden
- 10 Man charged with attempted murder after serious Norwich assault
On Monday, May 17, businesses including The Kuk Sool Won martial arts school, Thundercats studio, Centre Stage Dance School and West Suffolk College, welcomed back their adult students.
Nicole Cottee, owner of Centre Stage Dance school, said “it’s a relief to be back” as they held their first boogie bounce class on Monday since the third national lockdown.
She said: “It’s so much better to see everyone in person and not over zoom. The kids returned in April but the adult classes started this week - it has been lovely.”
Lily Wilson is a coach at Thundercats studio - where they teach cheerleading, gymnastics and dance -she said it feels “amazing” as their 18s returned inside and they are set to prepare for their first competitions since 2019.
“They have been really looking forward to getting back into the studio and moving their bodies again,” she said.
“It feels like a new kind of normal but exciting. It was so quiet before April 12, so it’s nice to see lots of happy face again.”
The Kuk Sool Won martial arts school, based at the centre, came runner up at the annual Thetford Business Awards in the leisure category on Monday, May 17.
Owner Kris French said although his pupils are happy to be back but they are “chomping at the bit" to be able to "chuck each other around again”– as they are restricted to non-contact training until June 21.
He said: “We have had a really great start and we are now up to more pupils today than we had even before Covid started.
“A lot of our syllabus is self-defence and martial arts is a contact sport so we do miss that. But hopefully by June we will be firing on all cylinders."
But it’s not just sports clubs and groups who can now meet inside. The Charles Burrell Centre is also home to West Suffolk College’s adult learning centre – which saw the return of its adult students to its classrooms.
Ian Evans the learning centre manager said: “You do find with adult learning people do need that second level of support it’s not just about getting that qualification.
“But they haven’t had the opportunity to do that. The opportunity for them to come back in again, it’s huge – for the Charles Burrell Centre and the community. "
Mr Chapman, who spent 35 years in the military, said in his first few months in the role he was been "blown away" by the community spirit.
As social isolation and mental health becomes ever more prevalent coming out of lockdown, he said it’s also important the centre continues to provide support services - including its internet pop-up cafe, The Burrell Shop, community fridge and groups to tackle loneliness.
“I am really positive," he added. "There is a buzz about the place, people want to come together again because that’s the human spirit."
The Engine Room Café currently remains closed but they are hoping to make a full return next month.