£230k funds boost for old school

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Volunteers working to give Sherburn’s Old Girls’ School a new lease of life as a community, small business and skills training centre are celebrating news that the Big Lottery Fund has awarded the project a grant of £223,210.

Almost £95,000 will be used to complete extensive internal refurbishment while the remaining funds will help meet the costs of employing a centre manager and caretaker.

The total conversion cost will be £193,000 and the Friends of the Old Girls’ School have raised £33,000 of this, with support from residents, businesses and other grants. Selby District Council gave generous support and North Yorkshire County Council agreed to lease the building to the community at a low, ‘peppercorn’ rent.

Welcoming news of the award Paul Doherty, who chairs the Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust, commented: “Sherburn is growing rapidly and thanks to this fantastic grant from the Big Lottery Fund, coupled with support from local residents, businesses, Selby District Council and North Yorkshire County Council, we are now able to complete an invaluable community facility.

“At the same time we are preserving and giving a new lease of life to one of Sherburn’s most historic buildings which might otherwise have been demolished.”

He added: “It’s very challenging to persuade the Big Lottery Fund that refurbishing a large old building deserves their support but we put together a strong and very well costed bid.”

More than 40 former pupils and Friends of the Old Girls’ School gathered to celebrate news of the grant. Among them was Ken Knowles, who first attended the school in 1940 and his wife Dorothy, who was a dinner lady there.

Ken said: “I’ve seen some unbelievable changes in Sherburn but it’s great to know that we will be able to keep this wonderful old building.”

And Coun David Buckle, a Sherburn representative on Selby District Council, said: “As a former pupil I think it’s excellent that this historic building will provide extra facilities for our growing community.”

Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust, a registered charity, was formed to manage the Community Library and retain the Old Girls’ School so that it can be refurbished for community use. Trust volunteers are also enabling Sherburn Community Library to remain open five days a week.

Future plans include a cafe, cinema and IT room.