Around 200 people gathered for Saturday’s official opening of the Old Girls’ School community centre in Sherburn.
The event celebrated the success of a five-year campaign led by the Friends of the Old Girls’ School to safeguard the building from the threat of demolition and give it a dynamic future.
Thanks to local residents’ generosity, plus a £233,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund and vital support from the parish council, Selby District council and North Yorkshire county council they managed to raise almost £500,000 for refurbishment and initial running costs.
Backed by Sherburn-in-Elmet Community Trust, the not-for-profit charity which also runs the village library, the Friends convinced the county council that the former infants’ and primary school should be restored and put back into community use.
The council could have sold the building to developers but instead agreed to give the Trust a 99 year lease at a nominal rent. A centre manager, Sarah Kay, has been appointed.
It was appropriate that the opening ceremony was carried out, using a large gold key, by six founding members of the Friends: Myrtle Hall, Melanie Heaps, Tony Hewitt, Alma Hodgson, Dawn Jacques and Sue Thornton. Guests were welcomed by Allyson Chambers, who chairs the Friends’ group.
As well as viewing the centre’s facilities, visitors saw a collection of black and white photographs taken of pupils and staff during 100 years of the school.
The community centre has two activity rooms suitable for all types of classes, especially dance or fitness related. There are two meeting rooms, a computer suite, community cinema and resources for small businesses and skills training.
The centre’s Little Teapot cafe, run by a professional caterer, will open from Wednesdays to Sundays.
Says Paul Doherty, who chairs the Community Trust: “We were delighted that so many Sherburn people joined us to celebrate the success of a determined campaign to give a new lease of life to the Old Girls’ School.
“Working together the Friends, Community Trust, Councillors and local people have created a great community resource.”
To enquire about using the Old Girls’ School’s facilities phone 01977 685178 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org