June 30, 2010 | Browney Lane News
Visitors to a community centre in Crook can be assured of a warm welcome after a five-figure grant from local mining, property and renewable energy company the Banks Group paid for the installation of a new heating system.
The St Cuthbert’s Centre in Crook was established when the school attached to the neighbouring St Cuthbert’s Church relocated to a new building on a new site, and part of the existing school buildings, which were in a poor state of repair, were demolished.
A consultation was carried out amongst local people about what to do with the remaining vacant building, with the establishment of a community centre being identified as a priority, and a 40-strong team of local volunteers worked to prepare the site for conversion by levelling and seeding the surrounding land and painting the building’s exterior.
Because the boiler had been located in the part of the school that had been taken down, there was no way of heating the remaining buildings – but thanks to a £10,000 grant from The Banks Community Fund, along with a similar sum raised by the church community, a new heating and plumbing system has been installed to ensure the Centre is usable by all.
A wide range of classes and events are now being held in the centre, including keep fit and pilates classes, ballroom dancing sessions and ‘musical minis’ for local pre-school children, and the Centre’s management committee is hoping that the improved facilities will lead to more individuals and groups making even better use of it.
Fundraising secretary Janette Kelly says: “There was great enthusiasm for the project in the town, which has been backed up by the time and effort put in by our team of volunteers, but without heating and plumbing, the building obviously wouldn’t have been a viable place to run.
“We held a number of fundraising events to start to raise the money we needed, but the support we’ve had from Banks has saved us a great deal of time and we’re extremely grateful for their backing.
“The Centre has quickly become a well-used venue for the whole community, and we’re very hopeful that we’ll get more and more local people involved with the activities that we host over the coming months.”
The Banks Group has given away more than £1.1m to good causes in and around all its areas of operation over the last five years, with almost £400,000 of this going to projects across County Durham.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, adds: “We have strong connections to the Crook area and have supported a range of different schemes in the town over the years, so when we were approached to back these admirable plans, we were only too happy to get involved.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation. Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact James Eaglesham on 0191 378 6342.