With the help of a Development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Society has been raising money to convert The Old Fire Station, Priory Rd, Downham Market into a new Heritage & Learning Centre. The theme for the project is ‘Community Together’ and the scheme has grown and developed by listening to the views of local schools, organisations and residents.
The £650,000 project, which is to redevelop the redundant building and fund three years Running and Activities costs, will employ a Learning Officer and a part time Administrator. They will train and work with a core team of volunteers to deliver a new vibrant and exciting Centre with a wide range of Heritage related activities for all ages. The volunteers will then maintain the project so it becomes self-sustaining.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of the project and has awarded a grant of £386,300 towards the overall cost and WREN, another major funder, has awarded £71,646. However, two of the funders that were approached, although they liked the project and made awards, were unable to give the full sum that had been requested…hence there is still a shortfall of £62,000 to find. The project cannot go ahead until all the funds are in place.
The Society is in discussion with the Heritage Lottery Fund as to the way forward whilst at the same time continuing to make further grant applications to Trusts. Local fund raising events are continuing…including a Concert by the Marham Military Wives Choir on Saturday 15th November at Downham Town Hall. Tickets priced £10 (to include a glass of wine and refreshments) are on sale at Lewks. The popular monthly Sunday bric-a-brac sales in the Fire station will also continue. If all goes well construction work could start on site in April 2015…with the building opening to the public a year later.
The support has been very encouraging from local business/organisations and individuals with the local Appeal Fund reaching its target of £12,000 in just seven months. A tremendous achievement by the people of Downham Market and shows the generosity, support and enthusiasm of the local community.